To keep up with the Western Conference champions, the Lakers needed to bring their A+ game. And without D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, it was going to be a monumental task. Yeah, they had beaten the Warriors before but a lot went right for the Lakers in their first encounter against them at Staples Center. The Lakers upset the Dubs in a 20-point blowout.
This one was decidedly different; Darius noted being defeatist in his preview earlier. Quite frankly, I didn’t blame him. Any adjustments that Luke Walton made didn’t seem to matter (Brandon Ingram replaced Julius in the starting line-up). The Warriors went on a barrage early after the Lakers opened with two Jose Calderon jumpers. While the Lakers survived the first wave, they couldn’t withstand the storm the rest of the night. The Dubs scored 80 points in the first half and the game ended in a romp, 149-106. The Lakers did this to the Warriors on their tail end of a back-to-back and the Warriors did it to the Lakers today on L.A.’s tail end of a back-to-back. So, really, we know who to blame here: the team that they each played in their first of a back-to-back, the Oklahoma City Thunder (I kid, of course).
Once the Warriors piled on, it threw the Lakers off their game. There were some rushed shots instead of the ball movement Coach Walton has preached. The Lakers were overwhelmed by the frenetic Warriors play. Granted, the Lakers didn’t seem to play much different defense from their first meet-up. They died a lot on those Warriors picks that got the shooters open; it’s like they all exploded upon contact. The difference here is that Golden State caught straight fire with their threes as opposed to throwing bricks through windows at Staples. This is one of the things the Lakers have to fix defensively as they seem to make a habit of giving up on chasing shooters this season.
For all intents and purposes, they didn’t do so bad offensively. But remember that the Warriors are on another stratosphere in terms of offense (they shot 62 percent!). Again, teams have to bring their absolute best when going against the Four Horsemen of the Oracle. Stephen Curry is the two-time MVP. Kevin Durant was the MVP before that. Klay Thompson is the most prolific three-point shooter outside of his own backcourt partner and Draymond Green will rebound, pass, swat, scratch, claw, chop, and kick through everything. The Warriors may not have the depth of the last couple of years but trying to stop four all-stars in the same line-up is like trying to stop the Gilmore Girls from drinking coffee; it’s super tough to do that.
For some positives, Brandon Ingram scored a career-high (16 points) in this game. Lou Williams (along with Jordan Clarkson and Ingram) led the team in scoring as he continues to play the best ball of his career. And they didn’t do so bad from three (8/20, .400). Of course, the Warriors obliterated them in that department (19/36, .528); Stephen Curry (31 points) wasn’t going to miss all his three-pointers again (he went 7/12). Kevin Durant went for 28 points, Klay Thompson scored 26, and Draymond Green had 9 rebounds and 11 assists. And the ball movement Walton emphasizes each and every game? Well, his former team was sublime in their passing. The Warriors had an incredible 47 assists. So yes, this was a crushing defeat but it also shows the Lakers where they are in the current NBA food chain. They’ll pick themselves up, learn from it, shake it off, and move on.
And you wanna know the great news for the Lakers? They get to do this again with the Warriors on Friday! This time, they’ll be at Staples so maybe the bizarro will happen again. The Lakers do hold a two-game winning streak against the Dubs in SoCal!
Even with this loss, I’m thankful that the Lakers are actually .500 by this time; I don’t think anyone expected that. I am thankful for all of you readers and all the writers, especially Darius (and Kurt Helin!), of this site. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. And don’t drink too many certain beverages because of this loss.