With the Los Angeles Lakers being eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week, they took the court on Thursday night against the Golden State Warriors without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Although the team played hard, the talent deficit was just too big and as a result, the Lakers suffered a 128-112 loss.
Without the stars available, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker took control of the offense and their drives to the rim led to an early 11-9 Laker lead. The youngsters played with great pace on both ends of the floor as Austin Reaves and Stanley Johnson helped pushed the lead up to eight.
Reaves drew a flagrant one foul after getting hit by Andrew Wiggins, but the Warriors climbed back and capped off a run with an Andre Iguodala corner three. Fortunately, the Lakers lucked out with the Warriors turning the basketball over which helped them take a 32-27 lead at the end of the first.
Los Angeles’ defense began to slip as Klay Thompson heated up from beyond the arc, nailing a pair of triples to give Golden State a 38-36 lead. Monk and Johnson returned to the game and instantly spruced up the offense, with the latter nailing his first three of the night to give L.A. the lead again.
The teams began to trade baskets each time down the floor, eventually knotting things up at 54-54. However, the Lakers defense struggled to slow down the Warriors at the end of the quarter so they went into the half trailing 65-62.
Much like the first half, Los Angeles came out hot with Horton-Tucker and Monk once again leading the way by driving to the basket. Dwight Howard dominated the interior on both ends, cleaning the glass and finishing underneath to keep the Laker momentum going through the middle of the period.
Despite Monk’s ability to prop up the offense, Golden State once again came roaring back and eventually went back up by two after a Draymond Green transition layup. Wayne Ellington was able to slow down the Warrior momentum with a triple above the break but they would go into the fourth trailing 91-84.
Johnson went back to work attacking the teeth of the defense, drawing free throws and making it a single-digit contest. Jordan Poole and Monk looked to carry the scoring load for their respective teams, though it was the Warriors who eventually took firm control.
The young Lakers did their best to climb back, but it felt like they starred to run out of steam as Golden State continued to churn out possessions. It was a valiant effort, but unfortunately L.A.’s losing streak was extended to eight games.
One of the lone bright spots on the night was the play of Horton-Tucker, finishing with a career-high 40 points.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!