With the series heading back to Los Angeles, the Lakers protected home court and continued their unbeaten streak at Crypto during this playoff run by beating the Warriors in Game 3, 127-97.
Most of the first half was a struggle for the Lakers offensively, but the 30-8 run to close out the first half turned the game around. D’Angelo Russell was sensational, giving the Lakers an offensive jump start with a 21-point performance. Anthony Davis responded with a bounce-back game after his disappointing play in Game 2. He ended the night with 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
From the jump, Russell was the best version of himself. He went 5-7 from the field and had three 3-pointers in the opening quarter alone. After a beautiful spin move on Klay Thompson, D-Lo gave L.A. a five-point advantage early.
With Austin Reaves struggling heavily all series (he had an awful corner airball three in the first) Ham brought in Dennis Schröder and Lonnie Walker IV as substitutes to get more offensive production. The result was not positive, as Dennis only managed two points and Golden State went on a 18-4 run to end the first twelve minutes up by seven.
LeBron James didn’t take a shot attempt the entire first quarter. That’s never happened in 275 playoff games he’s played in. The trend continued in the second as he didn’t take a shot until the 8:03 mark when he missed a jumper. James did finally make a field goal midway through the quarter and drove to the basket to get to the line ending the half with 10 points. A very perplexing start for the King.
LeBron got going later in the game — and made LeHistory with his sixth rebound putting him in front of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for fifth place on the NBA’s all-time postseason rebounds list. He continued to pick up his pace and ended the game with a respectable stat line of 21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, despite not appearing to impact the game as much as he normally does.
LeBron for 3⃣— NBA (@NBA) May 7, 2023
Lakers take the lead on ABC pic.twitter.com/rKdR1vw4rL
After being stuck in the mud most of the first half, the Lakers’ offense finally got free and went on a 30-8 run to go from down eleven to up by eleven at halftime. The run was a combination of D-Lo continuing to be the best offensive weapon, Davis being as engaged as he was in Game 1, and mental mistake after mental mistake from Golden State, including multiple technical fouls, take fouls, and a defensive three seconds call.
LeBron went into like the 12th row on a hustle play, immediately checked himself out of the game, checked himself back in 1 minute later, then made a sick transition layup, block on the other end, and hit 2 FTs in a blink https://t.co/8FdozYeWTp— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) May 7, 2023
The start of the second half was a game of runs as each team exchanged five-point bursts, but even with the Lakers up by double-digits, the game still felt like it hung in the balance. LeBron finally had an elite shift with three-plus minutes left, deflecting a pass and running full speed into the stands, making a mesmerizing block on Jordan Poole and finishing at the rim with authority to extend the Lakers’ lead to 18 points all but securing the win.
The final frame was a celebration. Reaves finally hit some jumpers, Dennis hit a dagger three with nine minutes left and did the “ice in his veins” celebration, and the L.A. advantage ballooned to 26.
With the game out of reach both teams cleared out the benches and garbage time ensued for the rest of the night.
Thanks to D-Lo and AD being sensational all night, the Lakers take a 2-1 advantage. Despite the victory, there are a lot of questions this game revealed. Can the Lakers figure out how to get a good AD and LeBron game at the same time? Is Lonnie Walker IV now in the rotation, and if so, does that take Wenyen Gabriel out?
Playoff basketball is a game of adjustments, and L.A. will have to figure out how to get better while both predicting and reacting to changes the Warriors will make in Game 4 again in Los Angeles.
Every game at this point is huge, but for L.A., going up 3-1 would be enormous, as only 13 teams in NBA history have come back from that deficit (and one of them, famously, had the guy the Warriors will be facing).
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.