Lakers Survive Firefight in Oakland, Barely

Stephen Curry is a rock star. I'm not sure I really understood that before tonight's game, a frantic and garbled 124 to 121 Lakers win over the Golden State Warriors, but I do now, and I apologize to him for being late to the party. The kid has an amazing suite of basketball skills, and I fully expect him to torture the Lakers throughout the coming decade.

Tonight he came achingly close to powering the Dubs to an upset. Curry scored 29 points on 73% True Shooting and distributed nine assists, delicious numbers even in a 100-possession NBA Jam game. No one on the Lakers could guard him. Not Shannon Brown, and most certainly not Derek Fisher. Despite running the offense on almost every possession he was on the floor, Curry committed zero turnovers. With three seconds left and Golden State down only three, he danced away from Fish for a clean look from 26 feet that was perfectly on line but just a touch long. The Lakers were lucky to survive the rook's magnificent performance.

They were also lucky to have overcome as bad a turnover disparity as any we'll see this season. The Lakers hacked the ball up on 24% of their possessions. That's awful, but surprisingly not their worst this year. (On November 24th, they had a turnover rate of 25% against the Knicks.) The Warriors, for their part, turned it over an unthinkably low 5% of the time. On only three occasions this season has the Lakers' defense forced a turnover rate below 10%, and never until now below 8%.

The only good things you can say about the Laker D tonight was that they didn't foul, and they took care of the defensive glass. The former is a backhanded compliment: it's easy not to foul when you're not really guarding anyone. The glasswork is nice but to be expected against the Warriors, a team with little height or inside bulk. Did any Lakers play good D tonight? Not especially. Lamar Odom was mostly OK, I suppose. Everyone else looked alternately slow, lost or uninterested.

The defensive numbers would've been even worse had it not been for Monta Ellis, who chucked his way to a 5-for-23 shooting performance. I know he had to chase Kobe Bryant around on D, but come on, dude. When you don't got it, you don't got it. The table below shows how badly Monta poisoned the Golden State offense. ("Shot Attempts" include trips to the line for two FTAs.)

Player(s)

Shot Attempts

True Shooting %

Monta Ellis

24

27%

Everyone Else

82

66%

If just a few of those shot attempts get redistributed to someone else, Golden State probably steals this one.

Of course, when it comes to terrible defense, the Warriors are the worldwide gold standard. They never really had much hope of slowing the Laker attack. Aside from a stretch in the second quarter when the Lakers turned the ball over on, no joke, six straight possessions, they pancaked the Dubs inside. The Lakers made 65% of their two-point attempts and rebounded 43% of their own misses. Size matters.

The free-throw discrepancy was massive: for every field-goal attempt, L.A. generated 0.56 free-throw attempts, compared to a ratio of just 0.13 for Golden State. It's especially strange to see that Corey Maggette, perennially among the league leaders in getting to the free-throw line, didn't have a single FTA tonight There were calls and non-calls for both teams to complain about, but on this night the Lake Show got the better end of the whistles.

The Nuggets lost tonight, so the Lakers' cushion in the West is at four games. Onward now to Sacramento, where the Kings await tomorrow evening. After the craziness tonight, there may not be much gas left in the Laker tank.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

L.A.

101

24

0.56

81

0.27

65

30

60

66

43

82

1.23

G.S.

100

5

0.13

92

0.30

50

43

55

57

18

57

1.21

Follow Dex on Twitter here.

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