Warriors exploit massive Lakers issue after game-defining injury

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

A comical ending has taken the shine off a strong Golden State Warriors victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena on Saturday night.

A mixture of review and shot-clock issues meant the final two minutes took an eternity, leading to a rather tame and embarrassing end to what could have been a thrilling finish. In the end, the Warriors got what mattered most -- a 128-121 victory that sees them tie with the Lakers for the Western Conference's ninth-seed.

A full-strength Golden State Warriors have taken advantage of an early injury to Anthony Davis in a seven-point win over the Los Angeles Lakers

Jonathan Kuminga had 10 points early in the contest but the Warrior defense lacked the necessary intensity as the Lakers recorded 36 first-quarter points. Yet the hosts' lead was dampened somewhat by an eye injury to star big man Anthony Davis, impairing the 31-year-old's vision that saw him out for the remainder of the game.

The absence of one of the best defensive players in the league changed the complexion of the game. Golden State had four points in the paint in Davis' 12 first-quarter minutes, but were then allowed to attack relentlessly against non-existent Laker presence on the interior.

The Warriors began to take control of the game late in the second-quarter, overcoming a seven-point deficit to take a one-point lead at half thanks to some hot shooting from Klay Thompson. The 34-year-old had 21 first-half points, while Kuminga had 17.

Stephen Curry had looked rusty in the opening period of his return from a three-game absence, but the two-time MVP quickly found his best and showed little sign of the ankle injury sustained against the Chicago Bulls last week.

The 36-year-old had 13 points in the second and added another 13 in the third, lifting the Warriors to a nine-point lead entering the fourth. LeBron James proved an ever-present danger though, enforcing his will with 40 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

A James corner three appeared to cut the Warrior lead to four with two minutes remaining, but it was taken away upon review shortly after as the Laker forward had stepped out on the shot. That started a bizarre chain of events, with multiple reviews followed by repeat stoppages as the shot-clock blatantly failed despite a number of attempts.

Curry stole the ball from James upon resumption, essentially putting the game to bed as Draymond Green again connected with Kuminga on another alley-oop dunk. Golden State finished with 62 points in the paint, completely taking advantage of Davis' absence as they shot 52.6% from the floor.

Curry led the way with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in a positive return, while Thompson had 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting including 5-of-10 from three-point range. Kuminga had 23 points and four assists, with Andrew Wiggins (16 points) and Green (12 rebounds, 13 assists) also playing big roles.

The Warriors conclude their four-game road-trip with a 2-2 record and will now head home for three games starting with the New York Knicks on Monday.