Careless turnovers, airballs from distance and wide-open lobs — the Warriors, super-team and all, are far too talented to be blown out by the Lakers, even on the road and on the second game of a back-to-back.
But just a night removed from a satisfying blowout of the Thunder at home, the Warriors looked like they their minds were still in the Bay Area in a stunning 117-97 loss to the Lakers on Friday at Staples Center.
Head coach Steve Kerr called it the team’s “annual beatdown” at Staples — the Warriors have lost to the Lakers three years in a row on the road — and said there were few bright spots:
“We were flat right from the beginning. Never even had a lead the entire game. Our defense was bad, our offense had no flow. Pretty lousy night all the way around.”
The Warriors trailed by as much as 21 points in the second half, but inched back in the game in the third. They cut the lead down to seven with a couple of threes by Klay Thompson and an alley-oop finish by Kevin Durant. But the Lakers pushed the lead back up to 11 entering the fourth after Ian Clark missed a 3-pointer that would’ve made it a 3-point game.
Durant’s 27 points paced the Warriors, but he had little help from the other stars besides 16 from Draymond Green. Stephen Curry mustered just 10 points while Thompson had 11. Curry’s streak of 157 consecutive games with a 3-pointer made came to an end, as he went 0-for-10 from distance.
Green said the Warriors needed to come out with a greater sense of urgency:
“We’re going to get everyone’s best shot and we’ve got to know that. Once we started to compete, it was too late.”
The Warriors could not muster a comeback in the fourth quarter as the Lakers built on their 11-point lead. An 8-2 run midway through the quarter for the Lakers was the capper, breaking the century mark and putting Los Angeles ahead 107-91 with five minutes to play.
When asked if there was a hangover effect from Thursday night’s win over the Thunder, Green emphasized that he didn’t over look the Lakers:
“I think a lot of people are looking at them like, ‘Oh it’s the Lakers. They’ve been bad for the last two years.’ They’re not bad anymore. They’re hungry. Those guys are grown up … I wouldn’t say it was a hangover from last night. Obviously the emotions aren’t going to be same coming into the game as last night. It’s the NBA, every game isn’t going to be the same emotionally. That don’t mean you don’t win.”
Kerr added that the team needs to rely more on the gameplan:
“It seems like what we’re doing right now is we’re going to win or lose based on our emotions and our energy and if some shots go in. That’s not a good recipe in this league. You’ve got to win with execution, with toughness so that on the nights that you don’t have the other stuff, you can still stay in a game and win a game.”
It was a poor beginning as the Warriors missed their first seven shots from downtown, some of them wide open. They turned the ball over eight times while the Lakers stormed out to an 8-0 start.
Golden State finished the first quarter shooting just 28.6 percent and made just two three-pointers on 17 attempts in the first half as the Splash Brothers were ice-cold. Thompson’s early-season struggles continued while Curry also couldn’t buy a shot from distance — both Splash Brothers were 0-for-6 from downtown.
The Warriors also allowed several easy lobs and tip-ins to the Lakers inside. Going with a small lineup with David West at center, the Lakers connected on alley-oop after alley-oop — four in total in the first half.
Golden State turned the ball over 20 times, giving 22 points to the Lakers. Durant said though some passes had good intentions behind them, they can’t try to overdo it:
“We’ve just got to be smarter, make the correct play. The spectacular happens when we make the simple play, especially with the team we have. We’ll be fine.”
Trailing by nine after the first quarter, the Warriors fell behind by as many as 19 points in second. They had looks, but could not convert offensively while the Lakers dunked and swished their way to a big lead — the most notable basket a levitating slam by Larry Nance Jr. on David West that brought the crowd to its feet.
As the first half buzzer sounded with the Lakers holding a 16-point lead, the crowd rose to its feet again. It was a testament to how well their team played, but also a stunned atmosphere that the super-villain Warriors were on their way to being blown out for the second time in five games.
It is surreal to think the Warriors didn’t lose their second game last season until Dec. 30, nearly two months later than they did this season. But when asked about it, Kerr was quick to point out there is no correlation between last season and this season:
“I don’t care about last year. It’s a different team. 4-2 is a good record. We do that all year, we’re going to win a lot of games and be in pretty good shape.”