In a game that featured 47 points from Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a reported torn Achilles and some questionable officiating, the Los Angeles Lakers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 118-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Why the Warriors Lost
They Could Contain the Lakers’ Big Men: The Warriors were without Andrew Bogut, and that void was exploited with great ease by the Lakers. Pau Gasol quietly recorded a triple double (26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists), while Dwight Howard had 28 points. Howard didn’t necessarily fool the Warriors with an array of post moves, but his length allowed his teammates to throw lob passes to him over the top of a small and less experienced Warriors front line.
Free Throw Differential: Let’s get this little tidbit out of the way before advancing- the Warriors shot 16 free throws and the Lakers shot 50 free throws. Obviously, that’s quite a difference, regardless of some questionable calls. Also note that the Warriors did foul Howard intentionally a handful of times to boost that total. Still, Howard shot a respectable 14-of-22 from the charity stripe, which, well, isn’t expected, and totally ruined the Warriors plan of hacking him. The Warriors, meanwhile, didn’t have a ton of penetration, as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson lived on the perimeter for the most part.
Very Little Contributions From Role Players: Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for 72 of the Warriors’ 116 points, which is a good fraction of the scoring load. David Lee also had 19 points. However, Harrison Barnes scored only four points, Jarrett Jack only had six points on 3-of-9 shooting and Carl Landry shot 5-of-12 for just 11 points. Yes, it’s wise to ride the hot hands, but since these three weren’t effective, the Lakers hounded Curry even more.
Kobe Bryant Took Over: Before leaving with 3:06 left in the fourth quarter, Bryant mustered 21 second half points. Klay Thompson held Bryant intact in the first half, but Bryant found his groove in the second half to lift the Lakers.
Stephen Curry was called for a foul while running through what looked like a moving screen by Dwight Howard. But that’s the catch: Instead of Howard shooting the free throws, Steve Blake shot them, which was a considerably better bet for the Lakers. Blake made both free throws to give the Lakers a one-point lead. And on the subsequent Warriors possession, with 29 seconds remaining, Jarrett Jack stepped out of bounds.