Lakers stun Warriors in an all too familiar way
How many leads will be blown before Draymond Green returns??
The Golden State Warriors lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 124-116 in L.A. last night in frustrating fashion. There were a few factors that stuck out in the defeat that have become a common thread in their recent four game losing streak (they’ve lost eight out of their last ten EGADS).
Golden State was up 89-77 with 4:05 left in the third quarter. But ultimately they couldn’t overcome a superstar performance from LeBron James (56 points). Golden State’s defense gave up a 35-22 4th quarter run that sealed the defeat.
Against the Denver Nuggets, GSW led by as many as 16 points and were up by 7 with 2:39 to play before falling to a furious comeback. The Dubs couldn’t recover from the damage MVP Nikola Jokic wrought, as he tallied 37 points, 17 rebounds, and 8 assists. Golden State’s defense gave up 39 points to Denver in the final quarter to clinch the loss.
And against the Dallas Mavericks the Warriors led by as many as 20 points but fell in a major collapse. It was the first time in 62 games that the Dubs blew a game where they led by 20 or more. The Dubs couldn’t survive Luka Doncic’s elite performance, as he burned them for 34 points and 11 rebounds. Golden State’s defense gave up a 33-13 run in the last quarter that finalized the L.
Recently opposing stars are just too comfortable getting theirs against the Dubs. This is clearly something where the Warriors are missing the mistake-erasing powers of DPOY Draymond Green, who through brawn and IQ injects a competitive swagger and accountability into Golden State’s defensive units. There’s several reasons the Dubs pay him handsomely, and a major part of that is anchoring an elite defense.
But the glaring absence of Green’s impact doesn’t just stop there. How about his ability to organize the offense and get everybody set up for greatness using the scheme and sharp passing? If you look at the averages, Green not only led the team in rebounds (which completes defensive possessions), he was dishing out 7.4 assists per game! He’s the best setup man the team has despite Stephen Curry being the nominal point guard.
The Golden State offensive firepower has sputtered late in games; there’s not enough scoring binges between Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole to offset the porous defense.
Heck the Dubs couldn’t buy free throws last night, going 9-of-19 from the line. And if you were wondering how the Splash Bros contributed to that stat, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 35 field goal attempts but didn’t shoot a single free throw.
There are times when I see the Warriors settling for high degree of difficulty jumpshots on the perimeter and wonder if there was a better shot they could have had with patience. But maybe they feel patience isn’t a luxury without Green guaranteeing a good look with his passing and screening. Maybe they feel it’s better to just pull up and hurl daggers. It looks pretty great when it works!
Okay frustration aside, the big takeaways from this to me is that the Warriors won’t sweep the Lakers season series this year and are in the hunt for the second seed in early March. Would I have liked Golden State to beat the Lakers three straight times this season? Absolutely. Am I hella annoyed that LeBron had his highest scoring game as a Laker against us despite being damn near 40-years old? You betcha.
But for as flawed as this team looks right now and uncertain as their injury future is, they’re still outperforming the preseason predictions that most pundits had for them.
I was talking on the phone last night with a buddy who is a die-hard fan of the #1 Eastern seed Miami Heat. He told me that even though his team has been hit hard by the injury bug, he’s confident Heat culture can galvanize role players and it’s good for them to get reps. He’s waiting for his star players to get healthy, but appreciating the experience the bench guys are getting now in their absences.
I chuckled thinking how that is the exact opposite POV compared to many anxious Warriors fans I see on the interwebs who don’t see this early-March trial by fire as a natural component of Coach Steve Kerr’s team building process, but rather as a harbinger of humiliation to come.
By the way…the Warriors have a slightly better record than Miami right now. Things aren’t humming right now (for obvious reasons) but these Dubs are right where they want to be in the thick of the playoff race after missing the postseason for the last two seasons.