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Preview: Warriors play second game in two nights, head to LA to face Lakers

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The Warriors, fresh off beating the Hornets at home, head down to Los Angeles to face the Lakers. Will they have enough left in the tank?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
Lakers
Golden State Warriors
32-2 (15-2 ROAD)
@
Los Angeles Lakers
8-27 (4-9 ROAD)
Details
January 5, 2016
Staples Center — Los Angeles, CA
7:30 p.m. PST
CSN Bay Area | NBA TV | KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: Silver Screen and Roll
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry
G D'Angelo Russell
Klay Thompson G Lou Williams
Brandon Rush
F Larry Nance, Jr.
Draymond Green F Anthony Brown
Andrew Bogut C Roy Hibbert
Key Injuries
Stephen Curry (bruised shin) - Probable
Festus Ezeli (toe) - Questionable
Leandro Barbosa (shoulder) - Doubtful
James Michael McAdoo (toe) - Questionable
Kevon Looney (hip) - Out

D'Angelo Russell (Illness) - Questionable
Kobe Bryant (Shoulder) - Questionable


★★★

The Warriors made it out of Oracle alive on Monday night against a pesky Hornets team with no quit. Sure, Golden State would have wished for a big blow out and some heavy rest for the starts on the front end of a back-to-back. But with so many healthy bodies returning to the floor - Steph, BRush, Harry B - they had their full rotation in place and got to show off their roster depth. The Hornets would keep their starters in during the fourth, erasing some of a 22 point lead to make it a game. Luke Walton was forced to put the main guys back in, primarily to get Draymond Green his third-straight triple double, but to also make sure Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb didn't sneak out a victory on the road.

The team jumped on a late night plane on their way down to L.A. last night to prep for the Lakers. What do they have left in the tank? Can this vet team keep their focus against an otherwise horrible Lakers squad, who could possibly be without Kobe Bryant?

Team overviews

The Warriors. The rumor mill continues to flow as to when Steve Kerr will retake his position on the bench. My guess is that he skips the trip down to Los Angeles to give Luke Walton all the auditioning he needs for the head coach of the Lakers next year. Luke has more weapons to play with, and should extend out the rotation like he did against the Hornets. How great was it to see Harrison Barnes back on the court on Monday, hitting his jumper and looking spry on defense? Because of the Warriors talent level, they could afford to let Barnes stay on the bench a bit longer than normal to get back to 100% on his high ankle sprain. He responded with his typically sound mid-range game, made some good cuts to the basket, and looked comfortable in his rightful spot in the lineup of death.

Other returns on Monday were Steph Curry - who put in a solid 30 points on a mostly efficient 21 shots. He did sport some airballs in his return to action from his shin injury, but let's just call that ring rust. He was supported by 30 from Klay, who was on autopilot and Draymond Green filling up the stat sheet yet again. The fun part about the evening was seeing Walton playing around with new test lineups for balance. Mo Speights had a great night spreading the floor and hitting his jumper as the back up big, with some length around him to help on defense. Golden State was simply relentless with scoring and defense all night to counteract a good looking Charlotte team that put in a great effort start to finish.

If they continue to get bodies back (McAdoo and Ezeli might return on Tuesday), the Warriors can utilize the depth they have to actually give others nights off with rest to save them for the long run. Andre Iguodala could use a night's rest, and having a capable Brandon Rush and Harrison Barnes might be able to do that trick, especially in light work against the Lakers.

The Lakers are still the Lakers. They are having issues with their rookies clashing with coaches, Kobe can't stay on the floor as part of his going away tour, and they continue to be at the bottom of the league in most major categories (PPG, Offense, Defense, etc.). They did blow out the Suns at home just a few days ago, but it doesn't count to beat teams that are overtly quitting on their coach like Phoenix is doing.

They feature just enough young talent to think they have a chance in the coming years. Jordan Clarkson is showing signs, D'Angelo Russell will get right once he is free of the Kobe shackles, and Julius Randal should live up to his expectations as a top 3 pick... eventually. The problem is that Byron Scott (counting out his final days on the bench in L.A.) has placed his two top young talents with the second unit in place of top-talent like Larry Nance, Jr.. Nothing against young Nance, but you don't spend top picks on guys then sit them on the bench like Scott is doing. With all young teams, Los Angeles can surprise you and beat a good team on a given night, but the Warriors are not a soft team that fails to show up on most nights. I don't believe this one will be close.

Highlights:

  • Last time these two teams played: The Warriors beat up the Lakers at home to set the NBA record for wins to start a season, 111-77. Kobe Bryant was particularly terrible, admitting after his 1-14 showing that it might be time for him to hang up the sneakers. Los Angeles shot 37% from the field, and their top scorer put in 10 points. The Warriors were done by the beginning of the fourth with Steph putting in light work on his way to 24 points.

Win prediction:

Warriors don't blow out the Lakers like last time, but do make this one easy. The defense comes to shine despite an average shooting night, and Golden State still wins by 20, 98-78.