There was a lot newness happening last night during the Golden State Warriors’ 123-101 loss to the reborn Los Angeles Lakers. This was the first (preseason) game in the new Chase Center, the Warriors showcased ten new players, and there was even a new uniform for the Dubs.
But after the rush of five straight trips to the NBA Finals, there were three charmingly familiar items of note about last nights Dubs that reminded me of a time long ago, when as a young fan I gleefully enjoyed watching exciting yet mediocre basketball in Oracle Arena.
Getting dominated in the paint
It was amusing watching Javale McGee (an effective center during the dynasty for the Warriors who left for a bigger opportunity) and Dwight Howard (a man who desperately wanted to join the Dubs but was declined) flank Anthony Davis to maul Golden State on the boards last night.
At a certain point, it seemed like the Lakers were missing shots on purpose just to cram in putback jams. I knew the Dubs were too little when L.A. just started flinging random alley-oop passes up around the rim, knowing the Dubs were too little to really deter it.
The stats from the game mirrored the carnage on the court:
Rebounds: Lakers 58, Warriors 47
Offensive Rebounds: Lakers 16, Warriors 10
Defensive Rebounds: Lakers 42, Warriors 37
Points in the Paint: Lakers 66, Warriors 36
Anybody getting flashbacks to the days when Shaquille O’Neal would stomp through Oracle Arena, putting guys like Danny Fortson and Erick Dampier in body bags?
The good thing is the current day Warriors actually do have legitimate bigs, they just happened to be on the shelf with various injuries. Willie Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney will definitely provide more force down low for the reigning Western Conference champions.
I will say this though: I enjoyed the fight from Omari Spellman. He led the Warriors in rebounding, gobbling up nine rebounds in 23 minutes. Even if he was undersized compared to the Lakers’ behemoths, he had no quit in him.
Warriors guards get the crowd going
The Dubs have a long history of guards who get hot and keep the fans believing. From Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond to Baron Davis and Monta Ellis, you could usually count on seeing someone from Golden State’s backcourt get busy and jacking up daring shots.
Last night, greatest point guard alive Stephen Curry continued the tradition with his first field goal attempt, a wild 40-footer as soon as he got his first touch.
Steph Curry on the wild shot he took to open up Chase Center:— Chris Montano (@gswchris) October 6, 2019
"I thought it was fitting to take a wild shot to get everyone excited." pic.twitter.com/ivyxU4j8Zr
He scored 18 points in 18 minutes in a casual return from summer vacation. He was clearly amused by Avery Bradley’s tenacious defense, as they shared several friendly chats in between Bradley clawing and grabbing and Curry getting buckets.
It's preseason and he's playing defense like he's got on jeans and Timberlands with no shirt https://t.co/9gASl0lVak— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) October 6, 2019
Rookie guard Jordan Poole had no problems jumping into the fray as well. As soon as he got on the court he made an impact with a dead-eye jumper and an uncanny sense of patience and vision with his dribble.
He was the second leading scorer for the Warriors with 17 points in 23 minutes (shooting 5-of-11 from the field, 4-of-9 from beyond the arc).
D’Angelo Russell scuffled throughout the evening with his shot (2-of-9 from the field, 0-of-4 from downtown). He reminded me of Monta on a rough night; jacking up contested jumpers and wildly darting to the rim for layup attempts over the trees.
At the same time though, I expect him to start converting those in the near future. He has supreme confidence and is an excellent ball-handler, so he’ll get his looks as he gets more comfortable playing in the offense.
This team CLEARLY missed All-Star Klay Thompson, but it provided a strong opportunity for other guards to hone their games and learn the offense.
The Lakers might just make the playoffs again
Wellp, there was our first glimpse of the Monstarz Lakers squad we’ve been hearing so much about. LeBron James, AD, McGee, Howard are an imposing front line. Their backcourt cycled Bradley, Danny Green, and Rajon Rondo as pesky defenders. I’m sure they will grow even more confident once the injured Kyle Kuzman returns.
They should be an exciting and entertaining Pacific division rival this season, which has often times been lacking during the rise of the Splash Bros-era and the crashing of the post-Mamba years.
From the tip, LeBron and AD were snarling and flexing, as if it were Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. I look forward to the rest of the season, and I wonder if they’ll keep that same energy when the Warriors are fully weaponized again.
Speaking of energy, we gotta wake Chase up.
DJ D Sharp is currently playing Too Short and its crickets at Chase.— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) October 6, 2019