The Warriors built another lead against the Lakers, but this time, it held to the final buzzer. After leading by as many as 25 in the 3rd quarter, the held on for a 109-103 victory. The win was the first in 7 tries for the Warriors, who hadn’t beaten the Lakers since a 95-87 win against towards the end of the 2010-2011 season. Golden State had also lost 32 of their last 36 against the Lakers, and a fan-numbing 13 of 15 at home. These are just more trends this Warrior team has been able to put a stop to, winning games against teams that have historically dominated them. Even in a down year for the Lakers, the Warriors had gone 0-2, including a blown 14-point lead at Oracle earlier this season. The other meeting ended in a 24-point blowout in November.
Mentally, this was a big win for the Warriors. It might be in the standings, too. With the win, the Warriors hold onto their 1-game lead over the Rockets for the 6th seed, and now the lead the Lakers by 4.5 games. They’re getting closer and closer to locking up a top-8 record in the West, and this win did a lot to keep the distance between themselves, Los Angeles, and Utah. It also was the 2nd time the team came close to blowing a large 4th-quarter lead against the Lakers this season, and it’s always good for a team to correct a mistake they made earlier in the year.
After pushing the lead to 25, the Warriors struggled until the final minutes, when Stephen Curry found Andrew Bogut on a pick-and-roll. Bogut’s layup gave the Warriors a 9-point lead with 1:17 to play, and the Lakers comeback threat never grew larger than it was just before that basket. The Warriors finished with just 15 points in the 4th quarter, but survived largely due to good pressure defense for most of the game, which helped hold the Lakers to just 39.6% shooting from the field. The purple and gold did finish with 36 free throw attempts to the Warriors 19, but that seemed to be the plan for Golden State. Mark Jackson’s team played overly aggressive more much of the game, and while it resulted in a good amount of silly fouls, it also took the Lakers out of their game early, helping the Warriors to a 20-point first half lead.
First Half Highlights (via @gumbyhighlights):
That defense, combined with some hot shooting from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson allowed the Warriors to take control of the game swiftly in the 3rd quarter, and while there was some nail-biting toward the end, the Lakers never quite got within striking distance. Some notes from the game:
-Klay Thompson hit 6-11 on 3-point attempts, but somehow, his biggest contributions came elsewhere. His hot shooting was just a bonus added on to his great defense against Kobe Bryant in the first half. Bryant finished with 36 points, but Thompson helped hold him to just 11-27 from the field, including many difficult first-half attempts. Klay ended the game with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals with just 1 turnover. It was just another good game in March for Thompson, who seems to have turned a corner after a couple clutch performances against Toronto and Sacramento to begin the month.
-Jarrett Jack scored 11 points in the 3rd quarter, finishing the game 19 with on 9 of 16 shooting. As the Lakers were making a comeback push, shrinking the Warriors lead to just 16, Jack came up big, knocking down jumpers to maintain the lead.
-Stephen Curry finished with another big night of big numbers, but poor shooting in the 2nd half saw him finish just 9-24 and 3-9 from beyond the arc. He neared a triple-double with 25 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds to go with just 2 turnovers.
-David Lee continued to be a reliable double-double, finishing with his league-leading 26th 20-point, 10-rebound performance. He finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds on 9-15 shooting, and had no trouble scoring against the Lakers tall front line. Metta World Peace gave him the toughest time, but had to leave the game at half-time with a strained left knee.
-Andrew Bogut didn’t have a great game, but his contributions defensively and his game-clinching layup played important roles in team success. He also had a buzzer-beating tip-in to end the first half that got the Warriors fans and bench up on their feet. Carl Landry and Kent Bazemore, in particular, enjoyed the sequence of events (sorry, that’s the only link I could find).
-Harrison Barnes had a solid first half, using his crossover to get to the basket a couple times. He was much less of factor in the 2nd half, but finished the game with 10 points on 3-8 shooting and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes.
-In yet another game, the bench impact was minimal. Curry and Thompson both played 40+ minutes while bench members not named Jarret Jack combined for just over 25 minutes of playing time, most of which went to Carl Landry and Festus Ezeli. Landry finished with 2 points and 4 rebounds, while Ezeli had an even 4 and 4.
-Kobe Bryant finished with 36 points on 27 shots for the Lakers, including 23 on 14 in the 2nd half, using the Warriors aggressive defense to his advantage by earning 16 attempts at the free throw line. He also added 8 rebounds and 3 assists, but for the most part the Warriors did a great job on him defensively.
-Dwight Howard had another ho-hum night, with just 8 field goal attempts and an even more surprising 6 free throw attempts. He finished with just 11 points to go with 15 rebounds. At one point in the first half, Howard picked up his 3rd personal and a technical foul on a play where David Lee connected to his lip with an elbow. He received 3 stitches and was far less of a factor in the 2nd half.
-The Warriors next 2 games also come at home against Sacramento and Portland, as part of a 5-game home stand. Both are should-wins for the Warriors, and with Houston meeting Indiana and Memphis next, the Warriors could do a lot to ensure they maintain their spot as the 6th seed in the West.