The Los Angeles Lakers head into their Tuesday night meeting with the Golden State Warriors on a surprising three game win streak. After defeating the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and blowing out the Phoenix Suns the purple and gold are riding high, but taking on the 32-2 Warriors is going to be a tall order.
Kobe Bryant is still out resting an aching shoulder, and rookie D’Angelo Russell will be held out of action do to a sore throat. Expect to see Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams play a lot of minutes at the guard position, and rookie Anthony Brown to soak up the majority of Bryant’s minutes at small forward.
Can the Lakers keep rolling with the reigning champs in town or will the Warriors put a stop to LA’s winning ways?
The Lakers started the game off giving up two uncontested threes, which is certainly not what they were hoping for. They struggled to deal with the Warriors’ ball movement and got lost on the defensive end, while their own offense generated mostly contested 20 footers. The Lakers came roaring back thanks to a pair of Larry Nance Jr. baskets; one over Andrew Bogut and a thunderous dunk on an alley oops from Jordan Clarkson. Klay Thompson hit his second and third three of the game just after the six minute mark, giving Golden State a 23-18 lead. From there the Warriors offense started rolling, and Klay Thompson continued to absolutely torch the Lakers. Klay finished the quarter with 22 points (4 threes) and gave the Warriors a 37-25 lead.
The Lakers started the second quarter with a lineup of Marcelo Huertas, Nick Young, Metta World Peace, Brandon Bass, and Julius Randle. Swaggy P’s shooting was way off (fans even booed him), so even though the Lakers were able to get a few stops they weren’t able to cut into the Warriors’ lead. Julius Randle was lively, pushing the ball at every opportunity and setting up teammates off his drives. Still, the Warriors maintained control with a 12 point lead halfway through the quarter. The starters returned and Lou Williams got himself to the free throw line for some easy points, but the Warriors passing continued to pick the Lakers apart. Larry Nance Jr. was flying all over the court making plays, but the Warriors finished the half up 62-47.
The second half started with both teams struggling to find their offense, but the Warriors still appeared comfortable with everything LA was throwing at them. Jordan Clarkson stayed aggressive though, and was able to get the Lakers to within 11. Stephen Curry appeared to aggravate his existing calf injury with just over seven minutes to play in the quarter, but he was able to stay in the game. Halfway through the quarter the Warriors had stretched their lead to 18, 73-55. As the quarter wore on the Lakers offense continued to struggle while the Warriors made it look easy, raining threes and pushing the lead all the way to 33 after a 22-0 run. When the third quarter finally came to an end the Lakers trailed 92-60, and the LA bench looked defeated.
The fourth quarter was essentially extended garbage time, and the Lakers were clearly frustrated. Anthony Brown was able to get some valuable minutes and appeared to finally be a little more confident on the offensive end. Coach Byron Scott even inserted seldom-used Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly into the game, this being Black’s first appearance since late-November. Both Black and Kelly got themselves a bucket and the Lakers cut into the lead slightly, but never made it close. World Peace provided an unfortunate highlight as he missed a wide open fast break layup. Huertas continued a solid night with a couple of layups and an assist to Black, though he also had a tough moment with a fast break layup being smothered by Ian Clark. A three-point play from Ryan Kelly would provide the final score as the Lakers fell 109-88 to the Warriors.