The Lakers rallied back in the fourth, going on a 12-0 run to force overtime, and squeaked out the win after trailing most of the second half.
Anthony Davis missed a big portion of the second half with a groin injury but returned in the fourth and ended the night with 29 points and 13 rebounds.
LeBron James was dominant, per usual, with 36 points, a career-high 20 rebounds and 12 assists in the win. D’Angelo Russell had some rough spots but stepped up big late and ended the night with 28 points on 8-19 shooting.
From the jump, the 39-year-old James had a burst no other player could match. He started the first quarter scoring nine points, including a beautiful fastbreak pass to Russell that led to a smooth layup.
Nah he knew that was toooo nice pic.twitter.com/IqiSMKZkqx— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 28, 2024
The Warriors responded with a 7-0 run to gain momentum and the lead, but the Lakers had haymakers of their own. Davis was an elite defender, showing why he’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and he also did it on the offensive end, scoring eight early points to help the Lakers come out of the opening frame up 33-30.
The Lakers kept the tempo up and outscored the Warriors 19-10 in fastbreak points in the first half which helped keep the Warriors at bay to start the second.
Christian Wood gave the Lakers quality minutes during his shifts, catching a beautiful pass by Russell, leading to a dunk and then another slam over Jonathan Kuminga, leading to a 3-point play.
The Warriors weren’t just going to take it lying down. Andrew Wiggins applied elite ball pressure on Russell, the Warriors started getting some threes falling and suddenly held a four-point edge with four minutes left in the second.
Both teams exchanged buckets the rest of the way, but James scored seven consecutive points for the Lakers to put Los Angeles in the driver's seat up 68-63 heading into the break.
Another important note of this run was the Lakers using last season’s starters to close the half, a lineup Darvin Ham has been hesitant to implement. Maybe we’ll see more and more of it now with the data supporting doing so.
All that went out the window to start the third with the Warriors coming out blazing with a 24-5 run to start the half.
Adding injury to the deficit Davis went down during the thrid quarter when he had Steph Curry and Draymond Green initiating contact with him near his groin area a part of his body that’s been an issue for him throughout the season. He hit the free throws to allow the possibility of him returning to the game, but he gingerly walked back to the locker room.
AD got hit by a combo of Steph and Draymond on a drive, and stayed down for a while before managing to gingerly make 2 FT's, and then limp off the floor straight to the locker room.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 28, 2024
In the meantime, LAL are on an 8-0 run since Vanderbilt checked in to make it 88-81 GSW.
The NBA is a game of runs and the Lakers went on one with Davis out, scoring 14 straight to get back in the game. The Warriors responded with another run of their own and the Lakers entered the fourth down by eight.
With 8:37 left in the fourth quarter, Davis returned to the game. He started off walking gingerly but appeared to improve as the quarter progressed. The Lakers rallied back, and a limping Davis passed the ball to Russell on the wing who converted the three to give the Lakers a one-point lead with under two minutes left in the game.
After a few missed free throws by Wiggins and Davis nailing a pair from the charity stripe, the Lakers were up by three with 28.9 seconds left.
An inadvertent whistle by the ref caused a jump ball and the Warriors scored to cut the lead down to one. Davis was fouled and split a pair and after a Curry bucket on Davis, the game was tied up and we headed toward overtime.
In OT, it was just two teams exchanging haymakers, with the Lakers finally pulling away thanks to an Austin Reaves layup to give the Lakers a four-point edge.
The Warriors pushed right back and got within one after a Curry three. The Lakers missed the following shot attempt but after Curry missed on the other end Russell got the rebound and hit a pair of free throws to give the Lakers the three-point lead.
Of course, Klay Thompson hit the wing three to tie it up with 5.9 seconds left and after James missed the game-winner, we had another overtime frame on our hands.
James didn’t want a third overtime.
He scored four of the team’s first seven points in the second to and gave the Lakers a five-point lead with a little over three minutes left.
Warriors made one final push, but a Russell three gave the Lakers the edge for good, which is good for him as he had multiple atrocious turnovers that almost caused the Lakers this game.
The Warriors had one final chance to tie or extend the game and Curry was clutch, hitting the three for the one-point lead.
Los Angeles got James the ball and he was found and hit his free throws to finally end this game and give the Lakers the win.
The win was great but nothing matters more than the health of Davis. Hopefully, the injury to his groin is minor. Los Angeles is already struggling to string together wins and Davis missing games would only make things harder for the Lakers during this road trip.
A lot will be decided on this trip. The Lakers will continue jockeying for position in the Western Conference standings; the trade deadline will be here, meaning if the Lakers are going to make a move before the Feb. 8 date, it will happen during this slew of away games.
Besides Davis being healthy, the biggest takeaway from this game is the Lakers lineup from last year is still good and needs to be used. The Lakers also have to get better to start the third quarter. It’s been an issue all season long, but for tonight, let’s just enjoy the win against the California competitor.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.