The Los Angeles Lakers had an emotional victory Tuesday night as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-109. Nick Young stole a pass that was intended for Lou Williams, but it ended up working out as Young hit a three-pointer with five seconds left to help secure the victory.
It doesn’t get any easier for this young Lakers team as they travel to the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night for the first of a home-and-home series with the defending Western Conference champions.
The Lakers were without two of their best young players Wednesday, as Julius Randle missed the game with a hip injury and D’Angelo Russell could not go as he is dealing with a knee issue. Russell did not travel with the team as he is supposed to miss the next couple of weeks after receiving a PRP injection in his left knee.
Jose Calderon got the start at point guard in Russell’s place, and rookie Brandon Ingram made his first career start as Luol Deng shifted over to the power forward position.
The Lakers, who have been a bit of a kryptonite for the Warriors as they have beat them in two straight games by double digits dating back to last season, got off to a good start as Calderon hit back-to-back midrange jumpers to give the Lakers a 4-2 lead.
Stephen Curry, who struggled from three-point range in the first meeting between these two teams, hit his first couple threes in this game, giving Golden State a 10-4 lead and forcing Lakers head coach Luke Walton to call a timeout.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant added to that lead by hitting back-to-back threes and the Warriors lead ballooned to 16-4.
Walton then inserted Metta World Peace into the game for defensive purposes, and he and Calderon both connected on three-points, helping cut the deficit to 18-10.
Lakers center Tarik Black became Walton’s second substitution of the night as starter Timofey Mozgov picked up three early fouls.
Neither defense could stop the opposing offense early, as halfway through the first quarter the Warriors led 23-14.
After the teams exchanged a few baskets, the Warriors offense got going and the Lakers had a few costly turnovers, resulting in an 8-0 Warriors run expanding their lead to 37-21.
Black stopped the run as he got fouled by Kevin Durant on a dunk attempt and connected on one of two free throws. Curry answered right away with another three, though, his third of the quarter.
Curry finished the quarter with 15 points, and the Lakers gave up a season-high in points in the opening quarter as they trailed 41-26.
The Lakers defense continued to struggle to start off the second quarter, as the Warriors did what they do best: get open shots in transition, as Durant and Thompson hit back-to-back shots to get the lead back up to 18.
A couple of free throws by Ingram and a layup by Jordan Clarkson got it back down to 14, which was enough to warrant a full timeout from Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
Rookie Patrick McCaw found a cutting Durant out of the timeout for a layup. Durant was also fouled on the play and drained the free throw to complete the three-point play.
The Lakers did a good job of staying within striking distance for the first half of the second quarter, although every time they looked to possibly go on a run the Warriors answer with a bucket to keep the lead at double digits.
Curry drained another three immediately upon returning from his second quarter rest, giving Golden State a 61-45 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the half. A couple possessions later he had a perfect no-look pass to Shaun Livingston for a dunk, prompting another Lakers timeout.
The Warriors high-powered offense continued out of the timeout, as Curry hit another three and then hit a layup while being fouled, giving the Warriors 70 points in the half, which was a season-high for them with still three minutes remaining in the quarter.
They carried that momentum into the halftime locker room, leading 80-49. Curry led all scorers with 24 points and six assists on 8-of-12 shooting. Durant added 19 points and Thompson had 14, while Draymond Green had four points, six rebounds and eight assists.
Young and Luol Deng were tied for the Lakers lead with eight points in the first half.
If the Lakers wanted to have a chance in this game they had to make a run early in the third quarter, but the Warriors came out with the same intensity as they had in the first half.
Mozgov hit midrange jumpers on consecutive possessions, and Ingram made a layup followed by a three-pointer, but after a timeout by the Warriors, Durant blocked a three by Ingram and turned it into a transition layup. Thompson then hit a wide open three to get the lead back up to 31.
Ingram hit another three with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter, giving him 14 points in the game which is a career-high for the rookie.
Other than Ingram, Mozgov was the only Laker to have success offensively in the third as he had 12 points in the quarter. He also picked up his fourth and fifth fouls of the game in the quarter though.
The Warriors were able to maintain their large lead, taking a 106-78 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lakers began the fourth on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 20, but Durant responded with a jumper, an assist to Andre Iguodala and an and-one dunk to bring the lead back up to 27.
Durant was the only Warriors starter to log minutes in the fourth quarter, although he came out of the game around the seven minute mark and his team up by 26.
Warriors guard Ian Clark did his best Curry impression in the fourth quarter, as he made four straight shots including two three-pointers to give him 11 points in the first six minutes of the quarter. He would add another two threes later in the quarter to give him 17 points in the fourth alone and a career-high 21 total in the game.
Los Angeles closed out the game with Marcelo Huertas, Ingram, World Peace, Black and Thomas Robinson on the floor.
Ingram drained a midrange jumper with just under five minutes left to increase his career-high to 16. But the Warriors reserves kept the pressure on, even once the game was out of reach, cruising to the 149-106 victory.
Curry finished 31 points, nine assists and five rebounds, while Durant had 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting and Thompson had an efficient 26 on 9-of-14 shooting.
Clarkson and Williams had 16 points a piece off the bench, which was tied with Ingram for the team lead.
The Lakers will face the Warriors again on Friday at Staples Center.