The Los Angeles Lakers played their second game of a back-to-back in Oakland, and they were looking to blow-out another team. The Lakers absolutely annihilated the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, 112-57, but the Warriors were a much tougher opponent. Despite their less than impressive record, the Warriors were capable of upsetting the defending champions. If the Lakers wanted to send a message out to the league, they had to win in convincing fashion vs. the Warriors.
Even though the Lakers were not playing in Staples Center, there was a sea of purple-and-gold in the stadium. The Lakers usually have a strong fan base for most of their road games, but there was an extraordinary amount of Laker-fans in Oakland tonight.
However, unlike last night, the Lakers did not open up the game very strong. The Lakers were making shots—but so were the Warriors. The team’s defense was not as strong tonight, and the Warriors matched the Lakers’ every move. Five minutes into the game, the Lakers had a slim two point lead, 8-6.
Yes, it is very difficult to win back-to-back games by 50+ points, but it is not difficult to play with effort. The Lakers credited their win vs. the Cavaliers to their aggressive defense, but that level of intensity was absent in the first quarter of tonight’s game. As the opening period concluded, the Lakers were not leading by double digits, but they were actually trailing 26-21.
The Lakers were in dire need of a spark, and they needed to execute properly on the offensive end of the court. To make things worse, Warriors’ star Monta Ellis caught “fire” and he opened up the lead to 11, 34-23, with 10:05 left in the half.
The Warriors continued to score buckets and momentum had completely shifted their way. However, when it looked like the Warriors would pull away for good, the Lakers answered back with an 8-0 run. The Lakers began hitting their shots, and their defense intensity completely overwhelmed Golden State.
Nevertheless, the young and athletic Warriors team responded to the Lakers’ big run. Golden State ended the half strong, and their multiple fast-break buckets gave them an eight point lead, 53-45. The game’s leading scorer was Monta Ellis with 23 points, and the Lakers had to find a way to limit his scoring if they wanted to win the game.
Whenever the Lakers are struggling and whenever they are in need of a boost, they turn to their stars Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Gasol opened the period “hot,” and he was getting most of his points in the paint. More importantly, Gasol was irritating the Warriors’ front line with his stellar defense.
After Gasol had his moments of fame, Kobe took the team on his shoulder. Bryant began to score the basket, and he finally found his offensive rhythm. However, Kobe’s isolation-play did not help the Lakers reclaim the lead. The Lakers could not guard the Warriors’ high-tempo style of play, and they ended the period trailing 75-69.
The Lakers entered the fourth quarter trailing by six points, and they had to step up their defensive intensity in order to win the game. Kobe Bryant was on the bench resting, while the reserves were on the court trying to regain the lead. With 7:47 left in the game, the Lakers were trailing by only one point, 84-83.
Lamar Odom stepped up big for the Lakers and he helped recapture the lead late in the fourth quarter. The final five minutes of the game were played with high energy and high intensity; the game was coming down to the wire, and the Lakers had the luxury of a group of veteran players.
The savvy Lakers team used their defense and clutch play to eventually put away from the Warriors for good. Kobe Bryant carried the Lakers late in the game, and when the final buzzer rang and the Lakers were ahead, 115-110. The Lakers advanced to a record of 29-11, and their next game will be in Staples Center vs. the New Jersey Nets.