It was the Warriors’ season opener at home, and their enthusiasm, crisp ball movement and deadly shooting were just too much for the Lakers, who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
From the opening tip up until the beginning of garbage time, which tonight was the entire fourth quarter, the Warriors created high percentage shots for themselves, while the Lakers were forced by the Warriors’ swarming defense to take much more difficult shots – and those shots simply were not falling tonight.
For the night, the Warriors shot 54% from the field, while the Lakers managed to shoot just 39%.
The Warriors’ high percentage shots were created by constant ball movement – which is what Mike D’Antoni wants, but did not get, from his team tonight. The Warriors recorded an incredible 34 assists (on 74% of their 46 baskets), while the Lakers managed only a pedestrian 19 (on 54% of their 35 baskets).
The Warriors’ superior energy tonight manifested itself in other ways, too. They grabbed 48 rebounds to the Lakers 39, recorded eight steals to the Lakers five, and blocked nine shots to the Lakers four.
The Warriors player who did the most damage to the Lakers tonight was Klay Thompson, who set a career high with 38 points (15-19 FG, 5-7 3PT, 3-4 FT) in just 31 minutes of play. To be able to score 38 points on 19 shots is unbelievably efficient volume shooting.
The Lakers were never in this contest, trailing by 10 after the first quarter, by 19 after the second, and by 33 after the third.
The Lakers opted against playing Steve Nash tonight, deciding to rest him on the second night of a back-to-back and give him time to nurse his nagging injuries. Although Nash could have played, coach Mike D’Antoni explained, “We don’t want any setbacks early. We’re just being cautious.”
Given that there was nothing Nash – or any one player – could have done to alter the final result of this game, this was probably a good decision.
The vacancy in the starting line-up was filled by Jodie Meeks, with Steve Blake sliding over to point guard. Meeks and Xavier Henry, who played a team-high 35 minutes, led the Lakers with 14 points each, and were two of seven Lakers players to score in double figures tonight.
If there is one small positive to take from the game, it’s that the Lakers shot 44% (8-18) from beyond the arc, to follow up on the 48% (14-29) they shot in their season opener. Long distance shooting will be important for the Lakers this season, and they continued to shoot 3-pointers at a high percentage tonight.
Lakers fans can take some solace in realizing this was not a game that the team let slip away because of a lack of defensive intensity, or because of a lack of offensive execution. It was just one of those rare games that was likely unwinnable, given the incredible rhythm with which Klay Thompson was shooting the ball.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, it is not about to get any easier. They have tomorrow off before hosting the 2012-13 NBA finalist San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. Here’s to hoping that Nash’s rest tonight will prove rejuvenating, and that he can record some quick assists against the Spurs to get his teammates going early.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
No Lakers player had a good game, let alone a great one, but the honour tonight will go to Jordan Farmar, who in 26 minutes of floor time recorded 12 points, five assists, and three rebounds, and who appeared to play decently defensively.
Yes, in tonight’s blow-out loss, that was enough to be player of the game.
Friday, November 1, at 7:30 p.m. PST vs. the San Antonio Spurs
This is an article by Craig Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter: @stevenashchroni