When you’ve lost 32 of your last 36 against one opponent, success tends to come with an extra level of exasperation.
The Golden State Warriors (41-31) hung on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers (36-35) by a final of 109-103 on Monday, just the team’s fifth win over the Lake Show in the last 37 match-ups between the two teams. Despite leading by over 20 at various times throughout the game, the Warriors hit a cold streak in the final quarter, allowing LA to get as close as seven before finally solving the game away.
“A win is a win is a win when it’s over the Lakers,” said Golden State TV man Bob Fitzgerald at the final buzzer. How right he is.
The win was especially sweet for Golden State because of the homing missile they dodged before tip-off. Stephen Curry, a game-time decision to play because of a cranky ankle, ended up playing 43 minutes and led the Dubs with 25 points and ten assists.
“What more could you ask from an MVP-type player?” Jarrett Jack asked in his post-game interview with CSN Bay Area’s Ric Bucher.
Curry may not win the NBA MVP (something tells me some guy named LeBron will be taking that thing home at the end of the season), but there’s no denying that he is Golden State’s Most Valuable Player. The team plays differently whenever he is on the floor, evidenced by the team’s 35-point second quarter on Monday, in which Curry shot and dished as well as he ever has.
Not to be outdone, Klay Thompson helped the Warriors topple the Lakers by both catching fire from beyond the arc and playing spectacular defense on noted scowler Kobe Bryant. Thompson hit 6 of his 11 three point shots and finished with 22 points to provide a strong backcourt complement to Curry. On the other end of the floor, Thompson suffocated Kobe’s attempts to find space, limiting the Lakers’ star to 11-of-27 shooting and just 2-of-10 from behind the three point line.
Kobe finished with 36, but 12 of those points came on free throws. With a sub-par defensive night, Thompson could have handed the game to Los Angeles. Instead, he may have been the biggest cog in the Warriors’ victory.
David Lee was third in command on Monday, adding yet another double-double to his tally with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Bogut added nine boards and contributed what may have been the biggest basket of the night, a layup with under two minutes left to push Golden State’s lead back to nine when it looked as though the Lakers were ready to make a run at tying the score.
The bench was once again mediocre outyside from Jack’s usual brilliance, but this appears to be the formula Golden State will rely on as they prepare for the playoffs. Mark Jackson has relied more and more on his starting five as the regular season winds down, with Curry’s long night after an ankle injury serving as a perfect indicator of that attitude. Taking away Jack’s 19 points off the pine, the bench added just six points to the Warriors’ tally on Monday. Jackson may reintroduce Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli come the postseason, but that remains to be seen.
The Warriors, winners of six of their last eight, are back to ten games above .500 with ten games remaining on the schedule. Barring another awful stretch like the one that preceded the last eight contests, the Warriors have a strong shot to lock down the Western Conference’s sixth seed and face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.