The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 124-121 on Monday night but only after a last second shot by Monta Ellis failed to make its way through the basket to get his team to overtime.
Ellis’ attempted three-pointer bounced three times on various parts of the rim, looking like it was going in but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
The Lakers escaped and know they’re going to have to do it again tonight in a hostile Sacramento environment. The last time LA played the Kings it needed Kobe to pull off one of his many game-winning buckets to manage a victory.
If you look at the stat line from last night you’ll see that LA’s scoring percentage outshone the Warriors, 56% to 48%, they made it to the free throw line 42 times vs. 13 for Golden State, they out-rebounded their opponents 56-25 but also topped the Warriors in turnovers 24-5
That led to more than 20 points off those mistakes many of them allowed due to the team’s inability to defend the long ball and the pull-up jumper.
The burning question of “What’s wrong with the Lakers?” is back with a vengeance since the return of Kobe Bryant from his five-game absence to rest his badly hurt ankle.
The team has been inconsistent since then, looking out-of–sync at times, flat at others and without the scoring balance from earlier in the season.
And now the problems from last season have returned. They fail to switch on defense to avoid the outside ball and get down early only to be forced to claw their way back.
After trailing by six at half-time the Lakers found a way to change the tempo which resulted in Golden State missing open shots. Finally up 11 points with a bit more than two minutes to go however, the Warriors went on a 11-3 tear and did it with tres and driving layups right down the lane. All the ways the Lakers had watched the team score all night long.
With only one starter (call-up from the D League) on the court for the Warriors whose listed height was more than 6’9″, the twin towers of Bynum and Gasol along with sixth man Lamar Odom should have dominated.
While they scored well, (Gasol, 26. Bynum 19, Lamar Odom, 17) the Lakers’ young center turned the ball over eight times to go along with Kobe Bryant’s eight.
The Warriors swarmed on defense and knew enough to rattle Bynum in the low post when he didn’t have great position and either forced shots or made bad passes.
Kobe’s mistakes were mostly a result of his refusal to pass out of the double team although he had a few balls swatted away that were too exposed to his defender.
The Lakers schedule this week has them playing teams without winning records. With the Kings, Timberwolves and Wizards on tap through Sunday it should be the time to take advantage of any slippage on the part of Denver and Dallas.
Denver did its part to help LA when they lost a wild one in Houston. Despite Carmelo’s 45 points the Rockets pulled off what the Warriors couldn’t. A come from behind victory.
Box score from the game, here