In a week surrounded by playoff pressure, viral trash talking and on court losses, the Lakers headed up to Oakland to snap their two game losing streak with a win against the Warriors. With the Lakers winning the past 12 meetings, Golden State wanted to finally get a win against their Southern California rivals.
The Warriors (34-44) came into the game hot, winning their last two games against the Mavericks and the Trail Blazers. Although they are out of playoff contention, a win for any team against the Lakers is an accomplishment. All Star Stephen Curry came off of a 28 point game against the Blazers Tuesday night, hoping to have another energetic game to hand the Lakers their third loss in a row.
The Lakers, however, were still 17-3 since the All Star break. Losing their focus and shooting terribly the past two games against both the Nuggets and the Jazz, LA needed to regain dominance in the Western Conference and start performing well before the playoffs. Kobe Bryant, losing the ball before the game winning shot against the Jazz, was looking to perform well to carry his team to another victory and deny the Spurs from clinching the Western Conference.
The Lakers came out on fire, scoring 5-6 from the floor in the first few minutes to be ahead eight points early, forcing a Warriors time out. Golden State finally got on the board with David Lee more than three minutes into the game, although four of five Lakers had already scored in the quarter. The Lakers couldn’t have started any better offensively, finally taking better shots and enabling each player to get good looks.
Lee was a player to watch offensively, however, being tough on the boards and easily scoring over Gasol, bringing the Warriors within 10 halfway through the first. Unfortunately for Golden State, David Lee was the only player working on the court, leading to 3 quick steals from the Lakers to inch farther and farther away, being ahead by up to 9 points. The Warriors shot a mere 7-29 from the field, making the game look like another dominant win for the back to back champions.
The Lakers let their impressive start get to their heads, however, as they began to look lazy and careless with 90 seconds remaining in the quarter. While Kobe lead the game with 10 points before he took a seat, David Lee was right behind him with 8 points. The quarter ended with LA up 23-14.
The Warriors started the second with their first three out of eight attempts, punishing the Lakers for their sloppy play. An 8-0 run quickly turned the tables, putting Golden State in the lead 24-23. Former Warrior Matt Barnes put the Lakers back on top with his first points of the game, making it a close match up with 8 minutes remaining in the half.
Golden State began executing the game well both offensively and defensively, triggering another timeout call by Phil Jackson to get the Lakers back into focus. This only caused the Lakers to begin looking like the Warriors, missing three three-point attempts in one possession. The game began looking like a back and forth free-for-all as both teams missed consecutively until an offensive foul was called against Lamar Odom.
Bynum was doing well on the boards with 13 rebounds, but more and more turnovers and not much help from the bench seemed disastrous for the Lakers as halftime approached. Odom began proving his place as 6th man of the year with an important three with five minutes remaining, tying the game at 31. The energy from Lee, Curry and Monta Ellis kept the Warriors ahead, while Kobe couldn’t seem to find the basket as the half drew to the close.
The Lakers scored a low 15 points in the second quarter, not due to great Golden State defense, but merely because of poor shooting. LA headed into the locker room down 5, needing to come back in the second half with a faster paced game mentality and better execution in both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. The Warriors were up 43-38.
The Lakers started the second half like they started the game, trying to find easy passes and quickly bringing the game back within 1. Stephen Curry came out making three straight baskets, keeping the Warriors ahead by 6 during the first five minutes. Kobe looked like he was refusing to take shots at the start of the third, making plenty of assists and not trying to find the open shot. Bynums work in the paint proved to be the only thing working for the Lakers, however, as Golden State started running away with the game with an 11 point lead. Kobe began to play a lot more aggressive offensively, performing a spectacular reverse layup, drawing the foul, and scoring his first points within 20 minutes of play. Although Bryant finally woke up in the offensive aspect of the game, the third quarter was dominated solely by the Warriors. More shots taken by Golden State seemed to be the only reason for their lead, as they shot 39% (28-72) from the field while the Lakers shot 42% (22-53). The Warriors outscored the Lakers 29-17 in the quarter, a slight setback from the 29-15 in the quarter before. While the Lakers typically dominated in the paint with their size, a numerous amount of missed jump shots proved toxic. A 27 point swing by the Warriors from the first quarter to the closing minutes of the third quarter killed the Lakers, as the quarter ended with GS on top 72-55.
The start of the fourth looked the exact same as the third, with the Lakers giving away easy turnovers and missing plenty of shots, including an airball by Gasol with 9 minutes remaining. Gasol didn’t seem phased by his bruised knee that recently received an MRI in the week, but something was going on to make the Lakers PF seem off of his game. Although he was 7-11 from the field, and his stats all seemed impressive, his presence wasn’t as dominant as it looked on paper. Lamar Odom seemed to be picking up the pieces, knocking down shots and handing out assists left and right, doing whatever necessary to keep LA in the game for as long as possible.
The Lakers seemed to be creeping back into the game bit by bit, making baskets and forcing the Warriors to take outside shots that they consecutively missed until Curry hit an impressive 3 with six minutes remaining. The teams went to the bench as Phil Jackson called another time out, which seemed like a redundant statement from the announcers throughout the game.
Kobe Bryant returned after the timeout, after almost sitting out for eight minutes, bringing back some spark to the Lakers towards the closing minutes of the game. Kobe brought the game back within 8 with 2 minutes remaining, scoring 10 points since he got back into the game. Bynum seemed more energized, making more rebounds bringing his count up to 21 rebounds and shooting 5-5 from the floor. But no one seemed to be able to shut down the Warriors offense, as once the Lakers scored, a quick response was always shown.
For a game that seemed unnecessary towards the playoffs, Stephen Currys energy seemed to tell otherwise. His gameplay was vital, as his work ethic on both sides of the court kept the Warriors ahead by a considerable amount throughout the second half. Golden States strong defense in the final minutes of the game shut down any hopes of a Lakers comeback. The Warriors came back from a first quarter deficit to win the game 95-87 .Golden State improves their record to 35-44, as the Lakers lose their third straight to show a record of 55-23.
The Lakers head to Portland to play the Blazers Friday.