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Recap: Stars shine bright in Vegas as Lakers defeat Warriors, 123-113

Los Angeles seized the victory in Las Vegas and sent a gentle reminder to the Warriors that their Christmas Day matchup won’t be a piece of cake

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The world champion Golden State Warriors fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 123-113 in a most spirited exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada. The audience was fairly evenly split in their allegiances between two historic franchises; an entertaining division of rooting interest for division rivals. There was a buzzing atmosphere of anticipation and the stars did not disappoint.

Kevin Durant balled his way to a quick 18 points, 12 assists, and 3 assists before fouling out in the third quarter. Stephen Curry swiftly racked up 23 points and 5 assists, and Klay Thompson chipped in 20 points with four made triples. Draymond Green sat out the game with knee soreness.

Brandon Ingram led all scorers with 26 points, making 15 of his 17 free throw attempts. “Space Jam 2” lead actor Lebron James put on a spectacular performance, tallying 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists in two damn quarters before sitting the rest of the game. Let’s take a quick look at how “King James” and his band of athletic showmen ruled the Vegas desert for a night against the champs.

First Half

What a pace! These two teams were flying up and down the court at breakneck speed.

Watching Durant battle James and Brandon Ingram was absolutely mesmerizing. It was clear Durant was intent on showing his skills against those two forwards. After all, James is the man many believe is the only player better than KD, and Ingram, is the supposed KD clone.

Durant cranked the pressure up with aggressive dribble-drives as soon he caught the ball on the wing, and ran hard in transition. He took the challenge seriously, even striping King James with another contested,Cleveland-memorial, dagger from 27 feet.

Kevin Durant had a double-double by half time, with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He even disrupted a point blank Javale McGee dunk attempt at the rim! #DPOY #candidate

Curry matched him with 18 points of his own, calmly juking and shrugging the handsy L.A. guards. Curry got to the free throw line six times in the first half (converting all six attempts). The Lakers physically pressed up on him, which led to frequent fouls on the perimeter. It also led to ankles gettin’ took.

Lebron James was not afraid to return fire... as always. He was bolstered by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 17 points, and a blistering Lakers pace (they had fifteen fast break points in the first quarter.)

James closed the half on a 40 foot buzzer beat that sent a shriek of delirium through the Vegas crowd. As the teams walked off the court, James took an extra beat to pose and stare at the net in the aftermath of his dazzling shot. He turned his head to the crowd and shot out a pleased “oh you didn’t know I could shoot threes too??” smirk as his teammates ran to praise him.

Lakers 61, Warriors 57.

Second Half

James was done for the night after his circus shot, and Durant followed him soon thereafter by fouling out midway through the third quarter. His competitive juices may be to blame for him being in six separate situations of compromised defense position...or the refs hate us. I don’t know.

Anyways, the Lakers played a crisp, athletic brand of basketball that forced a downhill tempo on the Dubs defense. It felt like they had wave after wave of role players who could breezily leap and sky past defenders. The high level athleticism on both ends made former Warrior Javale McGee a central figure.

The Warriors called the starters off midway through the third quarter, trailing by single digits. The Lakers role players held that lead and rebuffed the Warriors reserves the rest of the way.

These teams will be seeing each other a lot over the next season, and this early meeting has watered the seeds of excitement over this matchup.

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