It certainly didn’t come easy, but the Los Angeles Lakers were able to get by the Golden State Warriors, 103-100, in the Play-In Tournament to earn the seventh seed.
It was a sluggish defense start for the Lakers as they allowed the Warriors to hit their first 4-of-5 shots from the field. Andrew Wiggins was able to hit tough contested jumpers, including a 3-pointer over LeBron James that put Los Angeles down 15-4.
The Lakers eventually settled in on defense, making the proper rotations and forcing the Warriors into tougher looks while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was able to knock down a pair of threes to narrow the deficit. However, Los Angeles was unable to get several calls in their favor while Golden State was able to get back to executing which had L.A. looking at a 28-22 hole after one.
Although the Lakers were able to generate open looks, they were unable to knock them down and questionable calls from the officials seemed to rattle the team. James did his best to jumpstart the offense by getting to the rim but was uncharacteristically unable to finish.
Los Angeles fell behind by 10 as they committed a few live-ball turnovers that ignited the Golden State transition attack. Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors continued to stay hot from beyond the arc and the Lakers would go into the half trailing 55-42.
The biggest reason for the deficit was the play of the Lakers’ three top players in James, Davis and Dennis Schroder. They combined for just 13 points on an abysmal 4-of-28 shooting.
It was a much better beginning for L.A. atop the third as they played with much more energy and pace to whittle away at the Golden State lead. The Lakers were able to pull within one, but the Warriors responded with a quick offensive spurt to go back up 65-58.
Head coach Frank Vogel opted to go smaller, putting Anthony Davis at the five and it gave Los Angeles more room to operate offensively. James returned and sparked the team on both ends, which set up a thrilling fourth quarter with the Lakers down 79-77.
The Purple and Gold took their first lead of the night after a Kyle Kuzma lay up and James began to assert his dominance by finishing around the basket. However, Curry and Andrew Wiggins were able to swing the momentum back in Golden State’s favor by getting their offense back on track.
It was a tightly contested game down the stretch with Golden State retaking the lead. James hit a momentous three with less than a minute left to give the Lakers the lead and it would end up being the game-winner.