November 29, 2017, 3:28 pm
The Warriors (15-6) head to Los Angeles to play the Lakers (8-12) on Wednesday for the first time this season. They are fresh off of a loss to the Kings and will be looking to take out some of their frustration on the recently struggling Lakers. The Lakers have squandered an opportunity to bolster their record before a tough stretch in their schedule by losing games to Phoenix and the Clippers at home, as well as getting run out of the gym by the Kings in Sacramento.
Golden State was without both Kevin Durant and Steph Curry in their recent loss which may help explain their lack luster performance. They expect to get at least Curry back for the game this evening. His presence cannot be underestimated as he averages 26.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.8 steals on the year. Moreover his unlimited shooting range stretches defenses making it extremely difficult to guard the Warriors.
Curry offered some support for struggling Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, issuing the following statement:
“He is a rookie. He is going through the ups and downs like every rookie has, whether you’re highly touted or not. It’s all a learning experience, trying to find your way and be comfortable. Basically my perception is he’s working through that. I’ve always said he’s a great talent. I think he loves to play basketball, so he’ll be able to fight through that and have a great career.”
Curry also added “I hope you didn’t judge me off my first 20 games in the league, either.”
The concern for the Lakers is that although Curry didn’t dominate his first 20 games in the league, he didn’t shoot as atrociously as Ball has. Curry posted 11.0 points, 4.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting 45.0 percent from the field, 7.9 percent from 3-point range and 81.8 percent from the line.
Ball, on the other hand, is shooting 30.9 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from the free throw line and 24.5 percent from 3-point range. His pace is legendary at this point and not in a good way.
The Lakers are fresh off a disappointing loss to the Clippers in which they allowed former teammate Lou Williams to score 42 points on only 21 shots. The Clippers were missing three starters and closed the game without All-Star Blake Griffin, but the Lakers failed to execute down the stretch and lost a game they should have won.
One key element that continues to hurt the Lakers was their free throw shooting as they shot only 16-of-24 from the line, good for only 66.7 percent.
The loss of focus at the line was emblematic of the rest of their effort as they were lifeless in their defensive rotations and made multiple careless turnovers. They also committed unnecessary fouls at both ends of the court leaving most of the team in foul trouble.
These factors created a difficult situation for coach Luke Walton with regards to his rotations –especially in the fourth quarter. One could argue he didn’t push the right buttons this time as he played Kyle Kuzma only 20 minutes while he was highly effective from the field shooting 5-of-7 and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Walton attributed this choice to poor rotations and effort on the defensive end.
Compounding this decision was his choice to go back to a struggling Ball at the half-way point of the fourth quarter. Jordan Clarkson was playing a solid game with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 8-of-12 shooting. Ball did not positively affect the outcome of the game and the Lakers lost a close one 120-115.
The Lakers have had some success closing games out with Ball on the bench, if the 19-year old continues to struggle, Walton may need to revisit that strategy. Tonight’s game will provide Ball with a challenge and a national audience to prove otherwise.
One fun possible match-up this evening would be Brandon Ingram against Durant. Ingram has been compared to Durant due to his similar build and never-ending length. However, Ingram has struggled to demonstrate the same shooting ability that Durant has maintained throughout his career. Regardless, it would be fun for Laker fans to watch how Ingram measures up to his most frequent comparison, should Durant suit up.
- The Warriors lead the league with 116.9 points per game while the Lakers average 105.8 (15th).
- Golden State also leads the association with 50.7 percent shooting from the field while Los Angeles shoots 45.7 percent (15th).
- One key to the game for the Lakers will be limiting their turnovers as they average 17.2 good for second worst. Golden State also struggles from the perspective with 16.4 (6th) per game but that is mitigated by their excellent shooting from the field, 3-point range and the free throw line.
- Speaking of, the Lakers are last in the league at 70.3 percent from the line while the Warriors are second best at 81.9 percent.
- Golden State leads the league with 30.1 assists per game while Los Angeles averages 22.8 (13th).
Lonzo Ball (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Brandon Ingram (SF)
Larry Nance Jr. (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Steph Curry (PG)
Klay Thompson (SG)
Kevin Durant (SF)
Draymond Green (PF)
Zaza Pachulia (C)
Kevin Durant (ankle) – PROBABLE
Andre Iguodala (knee) – PROBABLE
Draymond Green (foot) – PROBABLE
Steph Curry (hand) – PROBABLE
David West (knee) – OUT
Time: 7:30 PST, 10:30 EST
Television: SPECSN/SPECD, NBATV, NBC Sports Bay Area
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, 95.7 The Game