by Jerry Feitelberg
Oakland- The Los Angeles Laker, a team on the rise with the addition of LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, and Ivaca Zubac, thoroughly outplayed the defending NBA champions, the Golden Stae Warriors, Christmas night at Oracle Arena. The Lakers head coach, Luke Walton who was an assistant under Steve Kerr in 2015 and 2016, had his young and upcoming team outscore, outrebound, and out defense the Warriors. The Warriors, who had a record of 15-3 at Oracle this season lost by 26 points 127-101. All the Warrior losses at Oracle this year have been by more than twenty points. The Warriors need help. General Manager, Bob Myers, has work to do to get the team some players that can come off the bench to, hopefully, ignite the offense. One such player, who is a restricted free agent, is Patrick McCaw. It might be time for the team and the player mend the rift.
The two teams played a close game until late in the first quarter. The Laker went on a 12-2 run to finish the first period leading 32-25. The Lakers, in the second quarter, continued to pressure Kevin Durant, Steph Curry. and Klay Thompson. They double-teamed the Big Three at every chance and gave opportunities for Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Jonas Jerebko, and Andre Iguodala to pick up the slack. Iguodala responded by knocking down 16 in the first half. The Lakers held KD, Klay, and Steph to a total of 18 for all three. LeBron James and company raced out to a 65-50 halftime lead. James had a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards in the first 24 minutes of action. The Lakers controlled the boards pulling down 27 while the Warriors total was 17. The Lakers Ivaca Zubac, filling in for former Warrior JaVale McGee, who was sidelined with a bout of pneumonia, proved to be too much to handle as he cleared the boards and added 8 points. The Lakers shot 58% from the floor, and they held the Warriors to 39%. The
The Warriors, who have been so good in the third quarter, failed to slow down the Laker onslaught. The Lakers increased the lead to 16 71-55. The Warrior then started a comeback. With the score 76-62, Steph Curry hit his first three-pointer of the night to make it 76-65. Steph hit another three, and the crowd at Oracle came alive. The Warriors closed the gap to two trailing 78-76. It was around this time the LeBron James suffered what appeared to be a groin injury, and he left the game. That was as close as the Warriors would come as the Lakers finished the quarter leading 91-82.
The Lakers refused to let the Warriors back in the game. The veteran guard, Rajon Rondo, took over the game for the Lakers and they increased the lead to fifteen 100-85 with nine minutes left in the game. The Warriors scored just three points in the first three minutes, and their doom was sealed. Warriors coach Steve Kerr raided the white flag and sent in the scrubs to finish the game.
Game notes and stats. The Warriors are now 23-12 for the year, but many people are worried that the team does not have the depth that they have had in the past. The three big men, Pachulia, McGee, and West, are gone. Kevon Looney’s play has improved, but he can’t do it alone. The Warriors are waiting for Demarcus Cousins to return from an Achilles heel injury suffered last January. Cousins has been working out with the Santa Cruz G-League and practicing in Oakland with the Warriors. The Warriors don’t want to rush him back too soon, but, hopefully, he will be ready soon. It will take a while for him to get back into game shape.
The numbers show the dominance of the Lakers. They had seven players in double figure. Zubac had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rondo knocked down 15, and he recorded 10 assists. LeBron finished with 17 points and 13 boards. Kyle Kuzma had 19, Brandon Ingram 14, Josh Hart 12, and Lance Stephenson 11. The Lakers improved to 20-14.
Andre Iguodala had a season-high 23 points to lead the club in scoring. KD finished with 21, Steph had 15, and Klay, who is mired in a shooting slump, had a season-low 5 points.
The Lakers shot 55% from the floor. They made 13 three is 33 attempts. They outrebounded the Warriors 49-37. The Warriors shot 39% from the floor and made nine three in 36 attempts.
The Warriors face another tough opponent when they play the Portland Trailblazers at Oracle Arens Thursday night at 7:30 pm.