Warriors

How Dubs' big loss to Lakers showed importance of team's D

Warriors
LeBron, Steph

SAN FRANCISCO -- Just over 24 hours after putting together their most complete game of the season, the Warriors took a 180-degree turn. 

In their 128-97 loss to the Lakers on Monday night at Chase Center, the Warriors (20-20) failed to find success on either side of the ball. 

Were there any positives?

"Absolutely nothing," according to Steph Curry.

On offense, the Warriors couldn't hit a shot, shooting just 43 percent on the night. And while that certainly didn't help them, it was the Warriors' defense that was their downfall. 

The Lakers shot 62.8 percent from the floor -- their highest single-game field goal percentage since January 2010 -- and scored 68 points in the paint Monday. More impressively, they did it without Anthony Davis or Marc Gasol. 

"That's unheard of," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said postgame. "Got anything they wanted."

Montrezl Harrell, who played center for the Lakers' second unit, scored a game-high 27 points. James Wiseman handled Harrell nicely in his first few minutes on the court, but it got out of hand quickly. By the end of the game, Wiseman was minus-25 in net rating.

But Kerr made it clear it's not all on Wiseman.

"I didn't think our defense was good at all from any position," the coach said after the loss.

The Warriors were always at least one step behind the Lakers. They struggled on their secondary rotations, especially when defending the 3-point line, and either goal-tended or fouled too often in the paint.

 

Even without their two primary centers, scoring inside is how the Lakers play. And they made the Warriors pay.

"That's one of their strong suits," Curry said. "The numbers are crazy, but they have done that well all year. They have enough shooting where they can space you out. LeBron can be a playmaker in a lot of different ways and then Montrezl was amazing, putting pressure on us down low.

"We talked about it before. It's the exact opposite of last night where you have to protect the 3-point line against Utah if you're going to win. This is a 180. You got to protect the paint. They have shooters, but you have to protect the paint if you want to build momentum."

The Warriors didn't start the game so poorly on defense. It wasn't stellar, but it showed flashes of potential. But the potential was there for just six minutes before it became the Lakers show. L.A. shot 68.8 percent in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Lakers scored 36 points on 68.3 percent shooting. And by the time the Warriors got any resemblance of cohesive defense together in the third quarter, they were already down by 20.

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The Lakers deserve some credit, Kerr says, because they are one of the top offensive teams in the league. However, they weren't the sole reason for the Warriors' invisible defense. It was also on Golden State.

"I saw a lot of plays in the first half that was very disappointing," Kerr said. "Basic execution, transition defense, or losing connection with cutters in the paint. Everything that you have to do to beat a great team, we didn't do any of that."

The Warriors have clung to their defensive prowess as their calling card through this mediocre season. 

They are as good as their defense is, they say. And the last 36 hours have proven that. When the Warriors are on, as they were against Utah, they can beat some of the top teams in the league. But when they are off, like the Lakers' game, there is nothing they can do to stop the bleeding.

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