Tuesday was their “get right” game, as they aimed to start off a six-game road trip with a bounce-back win. With Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry back in the starting line-up, the Warriors had no excuses to turn in a losing effort. Little did the team know, however, that this would be a very competitive game. The Warriors ended up eking out a victory in overtime, 127-123, to get back in the win column.
Aggressiveness from Lakers
The Lakers came into this game with a top-10 defensive rating ... which doesn’t sound right at first but became clearly evident from the game’s outset.
The Lakers were active on the defensive side, getting their hands up and closing out, limiting the Warriors’ spacing. Active hands led to 12 steals and 5 blocks.
Here was one of many steals that led to an easy bucket on the other end.
The young Lakers were not afraid to get scrappy and dive for loose balls. Young teams will tend to make a lot of mistakes on the offensive end, which can be fixed through practice. But effort on the defensive end has to be established, as a culture, early on.
Golden State not too long ago was a young team that had to be instilled with a defensive culture by Mark Jackson. That defensive mentality has continued to flourish under the tutelage of Steve Kerr and Ron Adams.
Both the Warriors and Lakers sit in the bottom third of the NBA in turnover percentage, so it’s no surprise that the Lakers finished with 17 turnovers and the Warriors finished with 22 turnovers. This has been the Warriors’ downfall early this season — committing careless turnovers that led to easy opportunities for the other team. Some credit should go to the Lakers, who grabbed 12 steals and played aggressively all night.
Nevertheless, turnovers continued to plague the Warriors and allow the Lakers to close the gap whenever the Warriors got a sizable lead. Coach Kerr was not too pleased with the way the Warriors took care of the ball.
Steve Kerr on the Warriors "galling" passing tonight and Steph Curry's rough 4 quarters and then strong overtime pic.twitter.com/EjyXCCy92N— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 30, 2017
Brandon Ingram vs. Kevin Durant matchup
This game turned into the Kevin Durant versus Brandon Ingram spectacle as Ingram recorded a new career high 32 points and Durant poured in 29.
Last summer, Durant had high praises for Ingram and went as far to say that Ingram reminded him of himself and that it “feels like looking into a mirror.”
Well, tonight it sure as hell looked like watching a clone of Kevin Durant clad in Lakers’ purple. Ingram and Durant shadowed each other all night and for stretches were trading bucket for bucket as they drove to the rim and hit mid-range jumpers.
Here is a play, late in overtime, where Ingram takes Durant to the rim and finishes to cut the deficit to four.
Brandon Ingram with a career-high 30 as the Lakers battle the Dubs in OTpic.twitter.com/ME6tZsc70R— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 30, 2017
It was an exciting display, as Ingram flashed his potential by challenging Durant on both sides of the floor. If tonight was any indication, Brandon Ingram is going to be a very solid NBA player and maybe a budding superstar in a few years.
Closing minutes of regulation
With the game tied 106-106, with about 1:20 to go in the fourth quarter, Curry tried to shake his defender and step back for a three-point shot. Normally, we don’t doubt Curry’s shot selection, as he’s proven he can shoot for any range and doesn’t need his feet set to get a shot off.
Curry didn’t have it going at this point, as his wrist was still bothering him. The shot missed badly and eerily resembled that 2016 NBA Finals Game 7 three-pointer Curry attempted over Kevin Love, trying to make something out of nothing but missing badly. The Lakers got the rebound and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished at the rim on the next possession and got the foul to make it a three-point play.
The Lakers took the lead 109-106 with just under a minute to play. Never fear,
Brandon Ingram Kevin Durant would bail the team out and nail a three-pointer at the top of the arc to tie the game 109-109. Tie game!
Durant ties the game with the clutch three pic.twitter.com/TAgs42FHPs— NBAFL⚡️SH (@TheNBAFlash) November 30, 2017
After a couple of excellent defensive stops by Draymond Green, the Warriors and Lakers headed into overtime knotted at 109.
It was clear that Curry didn’t have it going in regulation and had been sloppy all game. He had air-balled several shots and created a few turnovers with some careless passing. But something got into Curry during overtime and he took over, reminiscent of another playoff performance:
This is like a micro version of the I’m Back game, where Steph shot something like 0-14, then just went nuts for the last 7 min of the game.— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) November 30, 2017
Curry knocked down two three-pointers to begin overtime and helped the Warriors separate from the Lakers. He totaled 13 points in the extra frame. It’s as if he lost his powers in regulation and regained them in overtime.
The Lakers scratched a clawed and nearly forced another overtime if it wasn’t for the heads-up chase down by Andre Iguodala off a missed free throw by Curry. The Warriors won a close one and escaped with a 127-123 victory.
Although the Warriors came up in the win column, it was a very sloppy game and their lack of focus cost them some ill-advised turnovers. If it wasn’t for Durant and Curry bailing them out late in regulation and overtime, the Lakers would have pulled a major upset. Curry and Durant poured in 28 and 29 points, respectively, for a total of 57.
Nevertheless, this first matchup with the Lakers proves that LA has evolved quite a bit from last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Warriors can’t afford to take any of these young teams lightly as they are getting challenged night in and night out.