The Los Angeles Lakers embarked on the 2021-22 title race with a disappointing 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors despite a promising performance from LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
James ended the night with 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists while Davis chipped in 33 points and added 11 rebounds. The four-time NBA champion made five threes, shooting 45.5% from downtown — building on his strong performance from the last preseason game against the Sacramento Kings.
But the All-Star pair’s form couldn’t outweigh the many hurdles that the Lakers had to face. Kendrick Nunn and Wayne Ellington didn’t heal in time to face the Warriors on Tuesday, joining the injured Talen Horton-Tucker and Trevor Ariza on the sidelines. That forced head coach Frank Vogel to deploy Avery Bradley for a fourth-quarter stint only a day after he returned to L.A.
The Lakers lacked ruthlessness and failed to defend their lead despite spending the game ahead of the Warriors for the majority of the game. Golden State then took advantage at the start of the fourth period and Steph Curry made sure L.A. wouldn’t recover, putting in a triple-double.
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook had a night to forget, ending his first official game in the Lakers jersey with eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
The lack of chemistry hurt L.A. on Tuesday. Discussing what went wrong for the Purple and Gold, Davis admitted that communication failed at times between Lakers players — and Golden State succeeded at capitalizing on their miscues.
“We kind of just kept them around and then they got the lead,” he said. “Just rotations, not saying this as an excuse, but AB hasn’t had one practice with us, obviously he knows our system’s kind of the same defensively, he’s a great defensive player.”
But Davis added the Lakers have no reasons to overreact.
“We put the scheme in for our guys and now our guys are hurt, no Wayne [Ellington], no K. Nunn, no THT, and so now we got guys who are playing out of position a little bit. And then like I said, adding AB, who hasn’t had a chance to get re-familiar with the scheme so I think we’ll be fine.
“The longer we continue to talk, we played great defense most of the night, just some miscommunications at the wrong time and they made us pay every time.”
Davis said he used his own record in Opening Night games as a Laker to offer Westbrook reassurance after the clash.
“Russ is very hard on himself and I told him today I think I’m 0-3 in my Lakers season openers so it’s Game 1,” he said. “The same way he’s feeling right now is the same way I was feeling in my first year here.”
“I had a little reassurance from LB [LeBron James] and we’ll be fine so we’ll be fine, we’ll figure it out, he’ll figure it out, but we’ll figure it out together as a team on the defensive end for sure.”
Davis feels in good form after busy preseason, wants to dominate ‘every time I touch the floor’
While pointing out the issues the Lakers need to fix, Davis took note of some positives from the Opening Night loss. Among them, his confidence and rhythm that the 28-year-old forward found during the five preseason games he played.
“I just want to be dominant every time I touch the floor,” Davis said. “I feel confident shooting the ball and things like that. Now we’re just trying to get Russ going, LB was LB tonight, AB [Avery Bradley] came in and played extremely well for us.
“We need to get our other guys going and back as well. For me personally, it was a good game one and back at it Friday.”
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