Stephen Curry’s spectacular hot shooting first half was ruined by his own sickness and the sickness of an anemic bench as the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 13 point deficit at the half to roll on to a 119-105 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Friday night’s preseason finale.
Curry scored 16 points in the first quarter on 50 percent from the field and 4/7 from deep. At one point, Curry was responsible for 20 of the Warriors’ 38 points with not only his scoring but also his playmaking as well. The Warriors had the tempo and momentum until Curry left the game with an illness.
Stephen Curry is "not feeling well," per a team spokesman. Return doubtful.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) October 13, 2018
Granted, this was a meaningless preseason game. However, this game revealed some critical glaring weaknesses that the Warriors will have to fight against in the regular season.
Lack of consistent scoring off of the bench
The Lakers outscored the Warriors 32-16 in the third quarter mainly because the bench couldn’t even borrow a bucket. At one point in the quarter, the Warriors were 0-5 from the field until Quinn Cook swished a jumper with 6:27 remaining in the quarter. What is missing from the bench is players who can consistently score. With 20 points tonight, Cook proved he is capable of providing some offensive firepower to support the core. I have yet to see the same in Jonas Jerebko and Jacob Evans. The newly signed Alfonzo McKinnie showed specks of promise as he filled in for a resting Kevin Durant. However struggling to score 44 points while the Lakers bench scored 70 is troubling.
Lack of interior defense
This on-going flaw decided to make an appearance in San Jose as the Lakers carved up the Warriors’ interior defense with back cuts. The Lakers scored 54 points in the paint to Golden State’s 24. Why? because the Warriors kept getting beat on backdoor cuts. The Lakers were able to claw their way back into the game during the third because of capitalizing on many opportunities in the paint.
The center of attention . . . for now!
Damian Jones’ 16 point performance earned him a start in the opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night. Jones looked spry around the rim. He was catching lobs and providing athleticism and vertical spacing that adds yet another dimension to the Warriors’ offense. As it stand now, coach Kerr is using the center by committee approach until DeMarcus Cousins is cleared to play. However, if Jones continue to work and impress, he will be the undisputed starter until Cousins returns.
The Warriors led by as many as 17 points and lost that lead and the game by the two factors that I’ve mentioned. Ironically, the bench could help out its own cause by playing to their strengths offensively. They might not be able to make a lot of threes, but they may be able to drive and finish in the paint or they may be better as mid range shooters. Regardless of what their strengths are, hopefully this unit can refine those strengths during the course of the season. Or else, Meyers might have to look at some options at the trade deadline in February.