The Lakers beat the Warriors 120-94 in a game that played almost exactly as the final score would indicate. I wish there was more to say about this one than that, but there’s really not. The Lakers are simply better than the over matched, injury ravaged Warriors and diving too deep into this one isn’t worth anyone’s time.
If you want the Cliff’s Notes version of this game, however, here you go. The Lakers used their superior size and skill to take it to the Warriors early and then used their superior depth to wear them down over the course of the game. In my game preview I wondered if the Lakers would take this game seriously, but that was not a concern — they were never not in control and whenever the Warriors made a push to try to get back in it, the Lakers would just rattle off two or three scoring possessions in a row to reclaim the game.
This game, then, served as a nice way to ensure no one was too overtaxed, which was particularly important coming off a back to back. LeBron only played a little over 26 minutes and sat out the entire 4th quarter. Of the 10 Lakers that played in the game, Kuzma was the only one who got up to 30 minutes and no one played under 18 minutes. The minutes load was spread out, everyone got a chance to contribute, and it was just a nice and relatively easy going game.
If highlighting a few individual performances, LeBron scored 23 points and did his damage early by looking to aggressively score in the first quarter. He quickly piled up points and by the close of the 1st half he’d already dropped 19. He also dished out 12 assists, so he certainly continued his role as the team’s top playmaker even has he hunted his own shot.
Kyle Kuzma was good for the 2nd straight night, scoring 22 points on 7-12 shooting — including 3-6 from behind the arc. Like he did against the Suns, he found a flow in transition early on, but also took his jumper in rhythm, both in spot up chances and when coming off picks. I’m not ready to declare Kuz all the way the back, but he definitely seems to be getting his timing back and that’s translating to his scoring chances looking less forced.
JaVale also deserves some recognition for his strong game. JaVale feasted on the Dubs interior defense woes, scoring 18 points on 8-12 shooting while also grabbing 17 rebounds (5 offensive). He was active in getting into position as both a finisher and a rebounder, with the Warriors not able to offer much resistance. His size, length, and athleticism was just too much and his team high +30 on the night speaks to how much his play had an impact on the final score.
So, the Lakers won in a walk. And, honestly, they needed one of these. As Vogel said post game, it’s been a while since they’ve had a blowout like this and it was good to see how that type of win translated to lower minutes and some second half rest for some of the team’s veterans.
And now, some notes…
- Jared Dudley got some run after being out of the rotation for a while and did well in his minutes. He hit his first two 3’s of the game (finishing 2-3 from distance), scoring 6 points while also grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing 4 assists. Dudley just knows how to play and it shows up in how he moves the ball, relocates to keep up spacing and make himself available to pass, the types of screens he sets and when/where he sets them, and how he’s almost always in the right place defensively. Dudley’s squeezed in the rotation now that Kuzma is back, but I would not mind him seeing some spot minutes every couple of games — particularly if the more opponents go with a zone defense.
- KCP injured his ankle late in this game and while X-rays were negative, he will be re-evaluated today. I hope this is nothing serious, because even though his minutes have been cut lately, KCP has been playing better than given credit for.
- The Warriors lived up to their last ranked defense in this game. In his post-game presser Steve Kerr was asked about the team’s defense and he noted that when his team was competing for titles one of the ideas he preached was getting “3 stops in a row” defensively. He then said bluntly and, honestly in a dispirited way that “I don’t think we did that once tonight”. I don’t have the stats, but I’m pretty sure Steve is right. Woof.
- Quinn Cook was pretty shot happy this game, taking 11 FGA’s and hitting 5 of them. I think this number was part revenge game/part “hey, we’re winning so let’s bomb away!”, but it was interesting to see him hoist it up so many times.
- During the preseason, I was in a media scrum in San Francisco and Frank Vogel was asked about the number of assists he targets for his teams. Vogel said that he likes for his team to get to 25 assists a night. He then said if they get 30 or more, he thinks they’re doing really well as a group. Well, the Lakers tallied 31 assists vs. the Warriors and it was their 4th straight game (going back to the Miami matchup) that the Lakers have had 30 assists or more. The Lakers still have a ways to go on offense, but it’s nice to see them trending up in this specific area because it’s indicative of them sharing the ball successfully.
That’s it for this game folks. We’ll have more later.