Former Indiana Pacers’ teammate Reggie Miller texted Mark Jackson before the game against the Lakers.
“What the heck is that lineup?”
Jackson didn’t even know.
“When you look at the starting lineup, if I was a betting man, it’d be safe to say the Lakers would drill us,” Jackson said. “The bottom line is, at the end of the day, I’ve got a bunch of guys that compete, that get after it, that work extremely hard, that have tremendous character and pride, and gave ourselves a chance.”
Even if the Warriors lost the game, they came back from a 16 point deficit and battled with the Lakers all the way until the end. If anything, the Warriors’ plan of tanking is continuing to work and the guys played hard-nose basketball. The Warriors were down three key players and the fact is, Klay Thompson is still performing at a high level and David Lee is playing like the leader he was meant to be. Golden State’s rookies are also getting plenty of playing time, experience, and most importantly, confidence in competing against the best of the best.
Lee led all Warriors with 23 points, nine boards and four assists. Thompson continues to fill Monta Ellis’ shoes very nicely and had 20 points, five boards, seven assists and two steals. Rookies Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler both started in place of Nate Robinson and Andris Beidrins. Jenkins had a nice game with 12 points, three assists and one turnover.
Off the bench, Brandon Rush continues to be a key guy. He poured in 23 points, three boards and two blocks. Dominic McGuire, who drew the tough assignment of guarding Kobe Bryant most of the night, also contributed with six points, seven boards and three blocks.
If anything went wrong last night, it was the lack of play from Dorell Wright. For weeks, there was rumors of him being agitated of not being traded when Ellis was traded, but he does not have the talent that people want. And his lack of desire to play won’t help his cause. Last night, he had 13 points and three boards. His lack of pursing the ball has hurt since the Warriors are already small. This also contributed with the Warriors losing the battle of the boards, 52-35.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points, five boards and five assists. Laker land had made headlines in the past with the benching of Kobe Bryant during their last home loss. This time, Bryant began the fourth on the bench before checking in to make two key fade-away shots to seal the win for the Lakers.
Statistically the Warriors had a great night. They shot 43% from the field compared to 41% from the Lakers. They also shot 32% from beyond the three compared to the Lakers’ 25%. And they shot 94% from the charity strip compared to 79% by the Lakers, but they also 16 less free throws. The Warriors also had less turnovers, more assists, more steals and more blocks than the Lakers. They were also even in fast break points and scored two less points in the paint (48-46). But ultimately, they didn’t have someone who could stop Kobe. And Kobe did what Kobe does well: Score.
The Warriors should be proud that they hung around with the much more talented, deeper Laker team. And while moral victories don’t count for anything, in this case, the loss will help the Warriors end up with a top 7 lottery pick. And with a class this deep, it may be worth it to tank some games here on out.