Opening night began with a celebration at the Chase Center, as the Golden State Warriors gave speeches, received championship rings, raised a banner, and even wished Britney Griner a happy birthday - and freedom - before the game begin. Once things got started, the Wariors took a while to get going, but took control in classic third quarter fashion, cruising to a 123-109 win over LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and the
South Bay Los Angeles Lakers.
Steph Curry’s shot was off early, but he finished with 33 points, seven assists, and four steals, stifling a last-gasp Lakers rally in the 4th quarter with nine straight points, including a four-point play to extend the lead to 17 points with 3:14 to go.
Steph makes 4-point plays look routine pic.twitter.com/rfpz779WoQ— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 19, 2022
Curry drew the foul on Patrick Beverley, whose Lakers debut was derailed by foul trouble. PatBev missed two jumpers before leaving with his second foul less than three minutes into the game, picked up another midway through the second that sent him to the bench, and then fouled again 12 seconds in the third quarter, and headed to the bench again. He had four fouls long before he made his first shot, almost 41 minutes into the game, and finished with three points and five fouls.
In contrast, Klay Thompson was on a minutes restriction, but he took advantage, scoring 18 points in his 20 minutes. You can tell he was feeling it because Klay even dished out three assists. He was especially hot at the begining of the third quarter, when he hit three straight jumpers and then found Andrew Wiggins for a dunk, all in the first two minutes of the second half. That sparked a 12-2 run that gave the Warriors a 78-62 lead. Anthony Davis ended the run with a layup, but not until after Curry blocked his shot and forced a jump ball. Predictably, he did not win that jump.
After Jordan Poole replaced Thompson, the Warriors answered with an even bigger run. JaMychal Green hit a three-pointer, Steph hit a three from deep, and then he hit a three from even deeper.
Steph splashes from deep pic.twitter.com/2vBpOYtKJr— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 19, 2022
Kevon Looney and James Wiseman added tip shots in the 13-0 run as the Lakers went more than five minutes without scoring. With 1:49 left in the quarter, the Warriors had a 27-point lead, 91-64. The Lakers would rally in the fourth, but they never got closer than 12 points.
The Lakers’ Big Two And A Half put up numbers, with LeBron James getting 31 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists (and five turnovers), Anthony Davis busting out of his street clothes for 27 points and four steals, and Russell Westbrook celebrating his return to the starting lineup with 19 points and 11 rebounds (and four turnovers). The trio also shot 4-16 from distance, part of the Lakers’ wretched 10-40 three-point performance, and LeBron wasn’t surprised.
LeBron James on Lakers’ poor shooting in loss to Warriors: “We’re getting great looks, but it could also be teams giving us great looks. To be completely honest, we’re not a team constructed of great shooting… It’s not like we’re sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team.” pic.twitter.com/VfqWnKcQ3D— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 19, 2022
Was he talking about Westbrook? Decide for yourself.
Newly-signed Andrew Wiggins had no such issues shooting from deep, sinking 4-7 of his triples and playing solid defense on his way to 20 points. Part of that defense? Stuffing Russell Westbrook.
Jordan Poole’s shot was a bit off, going 4-15 on the night, but he still finished with 12 points and seven assists, one of which was a sweet dime to Draymond Green.
Dime by JP— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 19, 2022
Buckets by Dray pic.twitter.com/Z7lqJ4MQu2
See? They’re friends again. Poole also had a wrestling match with old friend Juan Toscano-Anderson as the two fought for a loose ball in the third.
The firstw time the Warriors play the Suns this year, Poole’s going to give Damion Lee a wet willy.
As for the rest of the Warriors, Kevon Looney led the team with a +30 plus/minus, with seven points and six assists. Draymond Green responded to the triple-single signs outside by putting up a 4/5/5 line, though he only turned the ball over once. Jonathan Kuminga didn’t score, but he looked impressive on defense, even drawing an offensive foul on LeBron. Which got overturned when Coach Darvin Ham challenged, because he’s still LeBron. The Warriors’ “other” Green had eight points and seven boards, as did James Wiseman in his first regular-season game in a year and a half.
Mostly it was a celebration. Steve Kerr managed to get 11 players into the game in the first half, though Moses Moody got the short end of the rotation, due to the big Lakers lineups. He also announced that he wanted the Warriors to play “tiki-taka basketball,” a reference to Pep Guardiola’s fast-passing Barcelona soccer style. Hey, why not? The offense that was 17th in the NBA put up 123 points, and they honestly didn’t even shoot that well.
Topping off the celebration was Klay Thompson, who crashed the set of Inside The NBA outside Chase Center after the game, still wearing his uniform. It’s not clear Ernie & Co. knew he was going to do that, but Klay Thompson goes where he wants. Deal with it, Chuckster.