LeBron James and the Lakers put their foot down on Sunday night in Los Angeles.
They walloped Golden State on national television by a final score of 117-91, and the game was effectively over by halftime, with Warriors forward Draymond Green suffering a lower sprained ankle late in the second quarter and coach Steve Kerr seeing absolutely no reason to put him back in the game, since the lead had ballooned to 29. Green is reportedly okay, by the way.
But James was especially determined on Sunday. He broke up some early offensive sets by the Warriors by stealing the basketball, setting the tone for a turnover-filled evening for Golden State, who had 20 giveaways on the night. The Warriors also quickly reverted to one of their very worst habits: fouling, sending LA to the free throw line 38 times.
Plus, they couldn’t shoot. The Warriors finished just above 40 percent from the field and made just eight 3-pointers on 24 percent shooting. Star guard Stephen Curry had just 16 points. Green, who has been terrorizing the NBA with his dazzling passing array had only two assists.
Kerr didn’t want to dwell on it, and he had a simple lesson for his team to learn from the embarrassing loss, per Kerith Burke of NBC Sports.
I agree with Kerr. This game definitely belongs in the toilet.
The Warriors had momentum after its first three-game winning streak of the season but ran into a buzzsaw led by by James, who was likely still smarting for Golden State’s comeback win in LA earlier this season.
But it wasn’t all James’ brilliance. The Warriors have some real issues to deal with, namely the turnovers. They also have to continue to earn their reputation as an elite defensive team. That distinction will go away quickly if the club continues to give possessions away and foul too much.
The focus for Golden State now is to close out the first half of the season strongly. They’ll face the Blazers in Portland on Wednesday and the Suns in Phoenix on the following evening before the All-Star break.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)