LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 67 points, but the Lakers dropped their fourth straight season opener of the LeBron era as Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors rallied pulled away late to win 121-114.
The Lakers led at the end of each of the first three quarters, but the team’s defense broke down in the fourth and dragged the offense down with it. Golden State’s trademark crisp ball movement easily found the weak points in the Lakers’ defenses time and time again.
In Russell Westbrook’s Lakers debut, it was Curry, his superstar point guard counterpart, who compensated for an uncharacteristically awful shooting night with the eighth triple-double of his career, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The Warriors also out-rebounded the Lakers 50-45 despite a size disadvantage.
James and Davis’s fresh legs were evident early, as they combined for 20 of the Lakers’ first 25 points, including three 3-pointers from James. The latter also had some nice defensive plays, highlighted by a chasedown block against Jordan Poole in the first quarter. Davis finished with 33 on 15-26 shooting while James dropped 34 on 13-23 from the field and 5-11 from the three-point line.
But the Warriors kept pace thanks to their bench, as the Lakers’ reserve unit was severely shorthanded with Trevor Ariza, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and Wayne Ellington all out. And while Rajon Rondo quickly rediscovered his on-court chemistry with Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ bench as a whole was outscored 55-29.
Down four bench players — including three guards — Frank Vogel was forced to experiment with some unconventional lineups that helped the Warriors hang with the Lakers in the second quarter. Westbrook was also extremely disappointing in his debut, missing his first six shots before finally making a layup midway through the second quarter. He’s clearly still in the adjustment process with his new team, and finished the game with just 6 points 3-12 shooting and was a whopping -25 on the court.
After the Warriors took advantage of some defensive miscues to tie the game at 61 coming out of the half, the Lakers responded with a 7-0 run capped off by a beautiful fast break touch pass from James to Davis:
Inject this directly into my veins pic.twitter.com/COrhSiVXSW— Silver Screen and Roll (@LakersSBN) October 20, 2021
The Warriors came back again, finishing the third quarter on a 9-1 run and opening an 8-point lead early in the fourth. But the Lakers stormed back thanks to a couple clutch three-pointers from Avery Bradley, who was just added on a non-guaranteed contract after spending training camp with the Warriors.
Still, it wasn’t enough in the end, as Andrew Wiggins hit a late dagger with just under two and a half minutes remaining and the Lakers couldn’t come back. They’ll get their next chance to get their first win of the Westbrook era on Friday, when they’ll host the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center for a Western Conference first-round rematch.