The last time the Lakers and Warriors met, it was no contest from tip-off to the final buzzer. Golden State ran their opponents out of the arena with their usual sharp shooting, and the Lakers, fortunately, haven’t forgotten.
Klay Thompson had a huge night that evening, scoring 37 points to lead the game. This time around, he looked a lot more human, and you can credit that to the Lakers’ defense (yes, the Lakers can play defense) that kept a close eye (and body) on him constantly.
After a 33-point second quarter, the Lakers came into the second half a lot more focused than they have in previous games when they’ve put on a good first-half show. They ended the third quarter on a 12-0 run, led by as much as 16 points, and sustained that effort until their 102-95 win.
Pau Gasol – Gasol pledged that he would donate $1,000 for every point he scored in tonight’s game to typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines. He finished the night with 24 points which (for anyone who needs a calculator) means he’s donating $24,000. Perhaps his pledge gave him extra incentive to score. Perhaps the four days off energized him. Maybe, after 12 games, he’s finally starting to find his groove. Whatever the reasons may be, Gasol looked like his old self tonight. Not only did he go 11-19, he also grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out a trio of assists, had two steals and one block. This is the Gasol we’re accustomed to seeing and will hopefully see again throughout the season.
Bench Play – The Laker reserves were a man down tonight, with big man, Chris Kaman, out due to a sore back, but that didn’t hinder the bench’s play. Led by Nick Young and Jordan Farmar, the guys off the pine chipped in 44 points. Young, proving to be more productive coming off the bench than starting, had 21 points on 7-15, including a trio of three pointers and a dunk from Farmar’s lob that excited the crowd. Farmar, having gone through a bit of a bad spell in previous games, made up for it tonight with his 14 points, eight assists, one block and zero turnovers. Having known each other since they were high school kids, the chemistry between Farmar and Young is obvious and effective.
Balance – This has been a good trend this season, with each Laker chipping in to help out. Tonight, they had five players in double figures.
Defense – Warriors leading man, Steph Curry, sat out the game, but he’s not the only player on the team who the Lakers need to contain. There’s also the matter of Klay Thompson, who left the Lakers in the dust in their last meeting. Tonight, the Lakers knew better and scarcely left Thompson unattended. They barely allowed him any space to take open shots and because of this, he went just 6-20 from the field for his 19 points.
Xavier Henry – Fizzling out already? Probably just well-scouted. Henry had such a great start in the pre-season and the beginning of the regular season (which technically we’re still in), but he has since gone scarce. He had just three points tonight on 1-5 shooting and went 1-4 from the free throw line. To pick up on his success this season, Henry needs more moves, something to keep the scouts and the opposing players guessing.
Outrebounded – 50-36 difference in rebounds. It’s not a point of emphasis this season since the Lakers’ coaching staff urges the players to run back on defense instead of waiting around at the glass. Fortunately, this did not hurt the Lakers’ chance at victory, but in general, rebounding should be a team effort.
For the first time this season, the Lakers have won consecutive games. The bar isn’t set very high for this team, especially with Kobe Bryant out, but they seem poised for the challenge. Next up are the Sacramento Kings.