The Los Angeles Lakers salvaged their four-game road trip Wednesday evening, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 123-116 to snap a three-game losing streak.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting to go along with eight assists. Larry Nance Jr. also had an impressive showing off the bench, scoring 14 points with eight rebounds, two steals and a block, finding a way to affect the game on both ends of the floor.
The Lakers return home Friday as they will face their toughest test yet, the Golden State Warriors. It will be the first of three meetings for the two teams this month, and the first game against the Warriors for Lakers head coach Luke Walton, the team he was an assistant coach of for the last two seasons.
Golden State is coming off their most impressive game of the young season, as they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-96 on Thursday night to put them at 4-1 on the season.
The Lakers backcourt will have their hands full as the Warriors have the best backcourt in the NBA in the reigning MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Curry is off to another efficient start to the season, averaging 25.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting and 43.2 percent from three-point range.
Thompson has struggled a bit from three-point range this season, as he is shooting just 19.4 percent from beyond the arc, but he is still averaging 17 points per contest.
Russell has led the Lakers in scoring this season at 16.6 points per game despite shooting just 36.7 percent from the field. Four of the Lakers top five scorers are guards as Russell is followed by Lou Williams (14.6 ppg), Jordan Clarkson (14.4 ppg) and Nick Young (12.4 ppg).
Walton has been starting Russell and Young with Williams and Clarkson playing significant minutes off the bench.
Golden State’s frontcourt was remodeled a bit this offseason, as Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia have replaced Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
Many people criticized Durant for signing with the Warriors this offseason, but it has not affected his play on the court as he is leading the team in scoring at 30.6 points per game while shooting 58.6 percent from the field and adding 8.6 rebounds per game. He scored 39 points on Thursday in his first game against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With the addition of Durant, power forward Draymond Green’s scoring numbers are down this season, but he is nearly averaging a triple-double at 9.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game.
The Warriors also have veteran big man David West coming off the bench as Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights are no longer with the team.
Keys To Victory:
Limit Turnovers: With a team as good as the Warriors you can’t afford to give away the ball as they will turn turnovers into easy baskets. Russell in particular needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball as he is averaging 3.2 turnovers per game.
Crash the Boards: The Warriors are one of, if not the most talented scoring teams in the NBA. If the Lakers want to win, their frontcourt led by Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov if he plays, will need box out to limit Golden State to one shot per possession as the more opportunities you give them it is almost inevitable that they will score.
Come Out Ready To Play: In Walton’s first game against the former team that he coached it is important that he gets his team ready to play from the opening tip. If the Lakers come out flat and go down by double digits early in the game the chances that the Warriors let them back in the game are not very high.
Los Angeles Lakers (2-3) Vs. Golden State Warriors (4-1)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 4, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles. California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Draymond Green
C: Zaza Pachulia
Key Reserves: Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Anderson Varejao, Ian Clark, David West
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Tarik Black
Betting Odds (Sportsbook.ag)
Spread: Golden State -11
Money Line: Golden State (-800), Los Angeles Lakers (+575)