The Golden State Warriors avoided disaster on Thursday night, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 127-100 to even the series at 1-1. With the Lakers focused on taking the ball out of Steph Curry’s hands, Klay Thompson stepped up to deliver his best performance of the playoffs.
There was already speculation that the Warriors would remove Kevon Looney from the starting lineup in Game 2 after the Dubs had success late in their Game 1 loss with Draymond Green at the five guarding Lakers star Anthony Davis. With Looney feeling under the weather that decision got made for the coaching staff. But rather than going to Gary Payton II or Jonathan Kuminga, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr surprised everyone by inserting veteran JaMychal Green into the starting five.
Davis was a shell of himself offensively, bothered by Draymond all game long. Davis had no success getting inside, and his mid-range shot stopped falling. While Curry picked up three fouls in the first half, he had 8 points and 8 assists. Thompson, though, picked up the slack, scoring 19 points in the half.
If the Lakers had been as reliant on Davis as they were in Game 1, the Warriors might have been able to put the game away by halftime. However, LeBron James looked rejuvenated in the first half, scoring 21 points on 13 shots from the field, and flashed his best outside shooting acumen since returning from his foot injury. Off the Lakers bench, Rui Hachimura made four triples in the first half to add 14 points. Still, the Warriors led 67-56 at the half.
The Warriors finally overwhelmed Los Angeles in the third quarter. James regressed to the shell of his former self that he’s looked like late in the regular season and early in the playoffs, scoring just 2 points on 5 field-goal attempts in the second half. Davis remained invisible (by his standards), ultimately finishing the game with just 11 points on 11 shots.
While the Lakers stalled offensively, the Warriors exploded, scoring on nine straight possessions during one stretch in the quarter. By the start of the fourth, the Dubs were ahead by 30, and Lakers head coach Darvin Ham chose to sit his most important players for the remainder of the game. After all, they had already accomplished their goal on Tuesday when they stole home-court advantage.
Thompson finished with a game-high 30 points. Curry recorded 20 points and 12 rebounds on 12 shot attempts. Draymond Green finished one assist away from a triple-double, racking up 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. Andrew Wiggins, JaMychal Green, and Moses Moody also scored double-digit points. Wiggins also had a game-high +35 plus/minus.
Now the Warriors will look to regain home-court advantage with a win in one of the next two games in Los Angeles. Game 3 at the building formerly known as the Staples Center is scheduled to tip off at 5:30 PM Pacific on Saturday.