If you can’t kill them with your size, kill them with your speed. That’s what Don Nelson must’ve told his injury-ridden Golden State Warriors who ran the Lakers into playing at their pace so effectively that it produced 24 turnovers. Kobe Bryant, alone, had nine and Andrew Bynum had eight. With 29 and 18 points respectively, their efficient scoring was trumped by their sheer carelessness with the ball.
The only negative for the Warriors, and true it’s a big negative, is that they didn’t win the game, but they sure played like the victors tonight.
It was obvious that this game would be played feverishly quick and a foreshadowing of all the negligence to come appeared in the very first Laker possession that ended in Bynum’s first of eight turnovers.
The 33-point Laker victory up in Oakland last November must have been clear in the minds of the Warriors as they ran the Lakers ragged to an almost-vengeful win.
At halftime, the Warriors led 65-59 and had scored 17 points off Laker turnovers. Golden State scored easily and freely, hitting wide-open shots from all around the perimeter, and beating their opponents with a quickness the Lakers could not seem to match in return.
The road team allowed three 30-point quarters by the Warriors (1st, 2nd and 4th) and were lucky they got the win when they did.
The Lakers were no match for Stephen Curry who, despite getting his fourth foul with three minutes left in the third quarter, torched every player in a purple uniform to a near double-double of 29 points and nine assists. This young rookie is fearless no matter where he is on the court. Whether he’s behind the three-point line, driving in for a quick lay-up, or taking off for the deadly teardrop, any number of players defending him are better off just letting him pass, which is what the Lakers decided to do tonight.
Defense from the Purple and Gold was scarce this evening, and against a scoring powerhouse like Curry, a little resistance may have helped cool him down.
Pau Gasol, responsible for Anthony Tolliver (6’9”) and former Laker Devean George (6’8”), gave up 27 points to the relatively smaller forwards. In one sequence early in the game, Pau helped Kobe on Monta Ellis. Monta then passed to Devean George who had so much time on his hands waiting for Pau to snap out of his momentary, but frequent, lapse in defensive judgment, that he launched a three with not one Laker less than six feet away from him.
Ron Artest’s defense on Corey Maggette was hardly notable as well, as he still managed to score 18 points on 9-15 shooting.
Monta Ellis, guarded by Kobe, was 5-23 from the field, but with five steals, was still active defensively.
With a 9-point lead and under two minutes remaining, Joel Myers was ready to declare the win when Stu Lantz quickly interjected, “Is it safe?” It was indeed, completely unsafe, as the Warriors got to within two points on Monta Ellis’ blow-past-Kobe layup. When Kobe missed his first of two free throws (the Lakers missed eight free throws in all!), Steph Curry had a chance to tie it up, but his attempt clanged and ricocheted to the right as three Lakers watched the miss grabbed fervently by Monta Ellis whose desperate shot bounced atop the rim, then bounced off.
The defending Champs had escaped another close one, but they sure know how to make a victory feel like a loss.
Pre-game Thoughts: The Warriors’ tallest active player is 6’9”. If the Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol don’t go off offensively as well as defensively, the term “soft” will be the season’s biggest understatement.
Half-time Thoughts: 59-65, Warriors. They also have eight steals to the Lakers’ three, and the road team was 13-20 from the free throw line. Really?!
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, who had 17 of the Lakers’ 24 turnovers.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Lamar Odom — it’s always nice to see Odom play like the beast that we all know he is. 17 points on 7-9 shooting, 12 rebounds, an assist and 1 block. If only it weren’t such a rare occurrence.