By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–Anthony Davis owned the first half, Jordan Poole claimed the third quarter, and little known Matt Ryan, with a grand total of five minutes of NBA experience, took it from there.
Tally it up, and the Lakers escaped Chase Center with a 124-121 exhibition win that entertained the fans, but left coach Steve Kerr needing to see much more ahead of the season opener on October 18.
“We’re turning the ball over way too much, and defensively we haven’t been great,” Kerr conceded.
Along with the 30 made threes, 17 of those astonishingly from the Lakers, the numerous healthy scratches signaled exhibition as opposed to the heightened, intensity of the regular season. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverly and Dennis Schroeder did not dress for the Lakers. The Warriors played without Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.
Green remains away from the team indefinitely due to the scuffle with Jordan Poole on Wednesday. There’s no indication that Green will be suspended by the Warriors and it’s likely he’ll be available for the season opener a week from Tuesday although that’s yet to be determined.
Little was said of Green on Sunday night, but Poole had a lot to say with the growth in his game, and the 18-point, third quarter explosion that gave the Warriors a 91-89 lead heading to the fourth.
Poole thrilled the crowd with his drive that started with an inside-out dribble move, finished with an around the back flourish and a flip shot for a bucket in the lane.
“We were debating on the bench if that was a travel, but they didn’t call it,” Kevon Looney joked.
Poole led the Warriors with 25 points, including three made threes and never appeared bothered by Wednesday’s incident or the speculation that he will sign a lucrative contract extension in the upcoming week.
Surprising, given all the uproar, and opinions regarding the incident? Not to Kerr and Poole’s teammates who know his focus and determination.
“He doesn’t really let stuff phase him,” Looney said. “If things (aren’t) going his way, he just puts his head down and keeps working.”
“There’s a reason Jordan is where he is right now, especially when you consider where he was coming out of Michigan as a late first-round pick struggling his first few months in the league,” Kerr said. “There’s a reason he’s in this position about to sign a big extension hopefully. Guy’s tough.”
Stephen Curry added 24 points, four assists in 24 minutes, two more minutes than Kerr insisted his star would play. Andrew Wiggins had 15 points, and James Wiseman put up 13 off the bench.
Davis returned to action after missing the two, previous Lakers’ exhibitions and looked like 2020/bubble AD with 28 points, 24 of those in the first half. The eight-time All-Star impressed with a dunk of a lob, and two made threes. Last season, Davis played in just 40 games and shot a career-worst 18 percent from distance.
Matt Ryan had his, singular NBA moment with 20 points–in 20 minutes–and six 3-pointers, the final one with 2:44 remaining that put the Lakers up 118-114. Ryan also cooly converted a pair of free throws with five seconds left that gave the Lakers their final margin of victory.
The 25-year old Ryan’s previous NBA experience? Five minutes as a Boston Celtic in their season finale in April. He scored three points.
“It’s good because you never know what can happen in a regular season game,” Davis said. “You might need Matt (Ryan) or you might need Scotty (Pippen Jr.), or Max (Christie). You just never know. And for them to get those type of reps in that type of situation, especially on the road, is good.”
The Lakers won for the first time in pre-season after three losses. The Warriors, who host Portland on Tuesday, lost for the first time after winning twice in Japan.