Warriors win after shutting down LeBron James in the 4th quarter
And they did it without Draymond? Whoaaa
There’s a lot to take away from the Golden State Warriors’ entertaining 117-115 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Klay Thompson’s season high 33 points emphatically reminded the world of how dangerous he is and why his synergy with Stephen Curry makes the Splash Bros the greatest backcourt in NBA history. Thompson’s 16 points in the fourth quarter was the stuff of legends:
And there was rookie Jonathan Kuminga being far-and-away the most impressive athlete on the floor on a night he played against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. The #7 overall pick in the 2021 draft tallied 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 9 rebounds. This teenager is a force of nature who is learning the nuances of the game in advanced masterclasses under Coach Steve Kerr’s tutelage.
We even got to see Andrew Wiggins (19 points on 7-of-15 shooting) show off some of his All-Star swag by hitting the Kevin Durant memorial triple in Bron’s eye late in the fourth. HARRISON BARNES WOULD NEVER:
And of course there was the team’s leader Curry cruising to 24 points and 8 assists with only 2 turnovers, handling his floor generalship duties like a true point guard.
But I was most impressed that the Warriors were able to hold their own against the championship tested frontline of King James and Anthony Davis. The Dubs won the rebounding battle 50-48! And they did it without All-Star Draymond Green and their 2020 #2 overall draft pick James Wiseman.
James finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists; he also passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most combined regular season + postseason points in NBA history.
But he shot a horrendous 9-of-27 from the field last night. Davis added 16 points of his own, but they came on 5-of-13 shooting. For the Dubs to hold them to such poor percentages without Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green on the floor is a testament to how these Warriors keep finding unconventional ways to win.
LeBron was imprisoned by Golden State activating 4th Quarter Alcatraz Lockdown Mode
LeBron clanging the potential game tying free throws at the end of the fourth quarter will probably be the lasting final image from this game. Check out how Klay celebrates:
But to get to that point, the Dubs put on a brilliant defensive performance to bottle up the man some call the greatest to ever play the game. With the game hanging in the balance, the Dubs limited King James to 1-of-10 shooting from the field in the final period:
Let’s go to the pictures and dissect how they protected Chase Center from LeBron’s 4th quarter fury:
0-for-1: LeBron airballs
LeBron sees all five Warriors here, airballs a jumper out of this that Talen Horton-Tucker catches for an easy putback. Airballs go to the offense as Jim Barnett would always say. But still, LeBron shot an airball!
0-for-2: LeBron misses the running fadeaway
Bron isolated against Nemanja Bjelica is not what the Warriors want…OR IS IT? Bron tries to drag him to the middle of the floor as a set up for a spin move attack, but he never quite gets the separation he’s looking for. Bjelly does an admirable job of staying connected all the way into the restricted area without fouling before tripping and crashing to the floor.
Check out Klay’s feint from the top and Damion Lee’s aggressive double to thwart Bron as he chugs his way towards the rim. LeBron fires up an errant bank shot and puts his hands up wondering where the foul call was. Dub Nation loves it when Bron starts crying to the refs.
0-for-3: Late shotclock heave misses
With the Warriors defense leaving L.A. with no options, Bron just jacks up a three-pointer from hella far away.
0-for-4: LeBron gets stripped on fastbreak
This is historically when LeBron is most dangerous. Running in transition with the ball, barreling towards the rim like the runaway train in Unstoppable, creating the contact to draw a foul while finishing with impeccable touch.
Except Klay has seen this so many times that he knows what to do: meet him at the free throw line to slow him down just enough that D-Lee can slide in at the last second and knock the ball outta bounds. Young LeBron probably dunks on both of them, but this older version finds himself looking to the ref as if to say “it’s out on them”.
0-for-5: Bron gets trapped at a block party on Wiggins Island
Just two All-Star starters that were once drafted by Cleveland as #1 picks battling down low. GET THAT SHHHHOT OUTTA HERE!
0-for-6: Casting another brick from deep
Wiggins navigates around an off-ball screen from Matt Reaves and gets a late contest on a Bron three-pointer that clangs. This is the kind of shot the Warriors will take from King James all day: far from the basket and without getting his teammates involved for assists.
1-for-7: LeBron knifes into the lane for a layup
King James gets a high screen from Anthony Davis and gets downhill on a retreating Kevon Looney. Loon has to make sure AD doesn’t get an angle for a pocket pass/alley oop from Bron, so he can’t commit fully until Bron is too far into the paint. Klay offers some resistance alongside Loon but he doesn’t have the verticality to bother LeBron’s layup.
Lakers go up 105-103.
1-for-8: LeBron clangs the reload triple
AD penetrates, kicks it out to Reaves, who swings it to Avery Bradley (who was cut by the Warriors before the season), who dishes it to a waiting LeBron. Wiggins scrambles over late and leaps off of a pump fake. Bron does a sidestep with plenty of daylight for a wide open three. His shot bricks with extreme velocity.
1-for-9: LeBron misses a putback
There was a scrum after a missed AD free throw and Bron couldn’t tap it in. That shot would have made it a 116-115 Laker lead with a minute to play in the fourth quarter.
1-for-10: LeBron misses a hook shot
Is it just me or does Russell Westbrook miss an open LeBron streaking backdoor here?
By the time Russ dumps it down to Bron, Looney is right there to contest with his freakish wingspan. Bron can’t quite find the touch on the little hook shot attempt and his miss gets batted out to Klay. TOUGH MISS.