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Lakers 107, Warriors 83: This Game Was Not Closer Than the Final Score Indicates

I hope trick-or-treat-based obligations didn't force you to miss the beginning of tonight's game. If they did, you missed those fleeting moments at the beginning of the first period when the outcome was still in doubt. Against a Golden State Warriors team lacking Stephen Curry but still possessed of the awful defensive skills they learned under Don Nelson, the Lakers scored on six of their first seven trips to grab a 14-to-2 lead. On two of those possessions, Derek Fisher took someone off the dribble for a hoop, which for an NBA defense is about as red as red flags get. From that point it was clear to everyone involved that the Lakers could name their score tonight. With the starters getting heavy rest, the champs sailed to a 107 to 83 blowout win.

The Lakers' 3-0 start to the new season has been powered by strong play from Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, and once again those three were in complete control. Kobe conducted the offense calmly and patiently. He let Pau get plenty of touches and found his own shot attempts, often in the post or on the baseline, within the sound execution of the Triangle. Pau continues to look very sharp: as he did in the Lakers' first two games, he both shot and distributed the rock with confidence and deft aim. And Lamar again had a productive night working off-ball cuts and hitting the offensive glass. Together, the Lakers' three stars put up 62 points on 61% True Shooting and snagged 33 rebounds. As a team, the Lakers scored 1.55 points per possession in the first quarter and 1.13 for the game.

The Warriors' defense is every bit as bad as those numbers look. They do nothing to bump cutters, they bite on every last head-fake, and their help D always seems to arrive just as the ball's dropping through the bottom of the net. They're also putrid on the defensive glass. The Lakers collected 44% of their own misses and tossed in 22 second-chance points. This is the sort of thing David Lee was brought to Golden State to help with, but tonight he got owned hard by Odom. Lee scored zero points and pulled in one defensive board in 18 minutes played. He must've been going as the Invisible Man for Halloween.

With little capacity to stop the Lakers from scoring, the Warriors' only hope was to go crazy offensively. The absence of Curry made that already improbable event out of the question. What that left was Monta Ellis trying to get to the basket against Ron Artest (good luck) and some low-percentage three-point chucking from the likes of Dorell Wright, Charlie Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic. I don't know why Keith Smart didn't call more pick-and-roll sets for Ellis and Lee, since that's Lee's specialty and the Lakers don't exactly like guarding the P&R. And by "more," I mean a number greater than zero. In any event, the Warriors broke a point per possession in only one of four quarters and finished with a paltry 0.86 PPP.

The Laker bench got some extended run and for the most part didn't look all that great. They played as a unit the first half of the second quarter, a stretch in which they looked out of sorts and scored only once in 11 possessions. They fared batter in fourth-period Taco Minutes. Matt Barnes had a spirited game, pulling in six rebounds and dishing four assists, and rooks Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks scored their first NBA points. Ebanks (four points on six shots) looks very unsure of himself right now. He's not totally up to speed on where he's supposed to be on the floor, and although he's willing to take the open shot when it's there, his aim is way off. Caracter (four points on two shots) seems more comfortable. He has a nice, soft touch around the basket.

Derek Fisher had what will no doubt be one of the best games of his (regular) season, scoring 14 on a mere seven shots. Ron Artest, though, still can't find the range. He had six points on 11 shots, but Ron being Ron, he contributed with his usual harassing D. And Sasha Vujacic made his first appearance of the season, leaving Luke Walton and Andrew Bynum as the only Lakers not to have seen the court yet this season. Luke supposedly might be ready to play on Tuesday night, when the Lakers host Memphis.

As October comes to a close, there's not much for this here Laker fan to complain about.

They needed a couple quarters to get rolling on opening night, but since then the purple and gold have been beating fools down. The offense looks tight, the bench is getting plenty of time to work together, and the D has been there when needed. Up next is the first back-to-back of the season, starting Tuesday against the Grizzlies at home and then Wednesday against the Kings in Sacramento. In the meantime, enjoy your leftover candy, everyone. You know Lamar's getting some tonight.











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