On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the Warriors in the first of their two consecutive matchups.
The Lakers ended up losing the contest by a score a 112-107, but the score doesn’t indicate how the game played out. The Warriors jumped out to a 30-point lead in the first half, with the starters scoring at will. Once head coach Steve Kerr emptied his bench, the Lakers bench mob slowly mounted a comeback that made the fourth quarter interesting.
Guard Nick Young had perhaps the best outing in the contest, collecting 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Young also showed attentiveness on defense, which translated to one steal and some positive on-ball defense.
Head coach Luke Walton and his staff had four days to prepare for the rematch, which also marks another contest between he and his former team. The Pacific division matchup is a precursor to the regular season, which begins in less than a week.
The Lakers face off against the Warriors three times in the month of November, which means these preseason contests should be taken seriously. The offense of the Warriors involves heavy off-ball movement, which the Lakers can scout and learn from.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson erupted during the contest on Saturday, pulling up from virtually any spot on the floor. Regardless if a defender was up in his face, Thompson’s ability to get hot, along with his beautiful release, can tack on threes in a hurry. Thompson finished the contest making 9-13 from the field, including four three-pointers for 24 points.
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry didn’t have to get a lot of shots up, but still was rather effective. His pick-and-roll situations with the Warrior bigs created opportunities for other shooters, with the Lakers crashing the paint too often.
When the game turned into a battle of the benches, the Lakers bench mob stifled the Warriors bench backcourt. Point guard Phil Pressey had four turnovers in 12 minutes played. Fellow guard Patrick McCaw also had four turnovers, but had a solid all-around game.
In order for the Lakers to succeed on Wednesday, they need a better game from point guard D’Angelo Russell. In 28 minutes played, Russell collected only eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, while committing four turnovers.
Jordan Clarkson, who was inserted back into the starting lineup, can be key for this second contest. Being paired against Thompson, Clarkson needs to do a better job of staying attentive to the deadly shooter. While Clarkson is focused on improving his overall defense, this contest should see more 1-on-1 defense instead of help-side defense.
Young’s emergence last game cemented his strong showing this preseason. The 31-year-old is shooting with confidence in Walton’s newly implemented system, while proving his naysayers wrong with an increased effort on defense.
While Julius Randle was able to stuff the stat sheet on Saturday (seven rebounds, two assists, three steals), he had a lackluster scoring performance. If he is again matched up against Kevin Looney, Randle should be able to dominate on the block and with his quickness to the basket. Of course things will be much different if regular power forward Draymond Green returns.
Timofey Mozgov was in a physical battle at the center position against Zaza Pachulia, as the centers clashed and bruised each other throughout the game. While Mozgov showed frustration with a few forearm shivers and five quick fouls, he needs to stay composed against the center he will see four times during the regular season.
For Luol Deng, guarding Kevin Durant seemed to be a difficult task. Durant caught fire quickly, pulling up on many mid-range shots off of pick-and-roll scenarios. The lengthy small forward gained confidence, even draining a three-pointer off the backboard, which he knew was going in.
Deng’s defensive frustrations translated over to the offensive end, as he went 2-for-7 with four points.
Looney rounded out the Warriors starters by having a solid all around game. Looney knows his role amidst this high-scoring lineup and collected seven points, nine rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes played.
Keys To Victory:
Know Your Defensive Assignment: There were too many instances in the first half when the young core of the Lakers lost their defensive assignments. Transition defense is going to be key in this game, as the Lakers must run back on defense and find their assignments. With the Warriors running a similar up-tempo offense, two of the three deadly shooters on the Warriors always run the wings when the outlet pass is delivered.
In order for the Lakers to keep this game close, Russell, Clarkson and Deng must continue giving effort on the defensive end, while relying on their offensive sets to help them rest throughout the game.
Don’t Let Their Success Deter Your Mindset:
The Warriors are going to get their shots up regardless. Kerr has a relaxed grip on the leash on his stars, giving them the green light when they are feeling hot. All five Warriors starters concluded the game with at least a +15 rating on the +/- scale.
If the Warriors do go on a roll and score, the Lakers can’t let their offense turn into a stagnant 1-on-1 scenario. When the possessions end with a pick-and-roll with the shot clock winding down, the offense suffers and results in a forced shot. Even if Russell, Clarkson, or Deng continually allow points, they cannot let it mentally affect their outlook on the game.
Los Angeles Lakers (2-4) Vs. Golden State Warriors (4-1)
7:00 P.M. PST, October 19, 2016
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, 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, JaVale McGee, Anderson Varejao, Patrick McCaw
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Nick Young
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Nick Young, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, Tarik Black