It's the same old story for Lakers vs. Warriors. The Warriors push the ball to get layups and move the ball quickly to get open jumpers. The Lakers take advantage of their size and pound it inside. The conflicting styles were equally effective (or ineffective depending on how you look at it). But the Lakers were just a touch better last night as they beat the Warriors for the ninth straight time, 124-121.
The Lakers' defense is still showing no signs of life. They seemingly have no ability to rotate or switch on defense. The Warriors turn the ball over on average 15 times a game but had just 5 last night. The Lakers never disputed a pass and the Warriors never look flustered on offense.
The Lakers decided to allow Monta Ellis to shoot and prevent him from driving. Ellis couldn't find his shot last night, hitting just 5 of 23 but when he drove he was doubled and managed to find the open man. Ellis had 11 assists and just one turnover.
While the Warriors limited their turnovers (and the Lakers couldn't force any), the Lakers were more than willing to cough it over. They had 11 in the second quarter in which they were outscored 33-20 and 24 in the game. . They looked slow on offense. Their passes were all from a standstill and were predictable. The Warriors simply stepped into the passing lanes and picked off the telegraphed passes.
But the Lakers were too strong inside. Gasol and Bynum combined to hit 16 of 24 shots for 45 points and 23 rebounds. Bryant added 29 points but also turned it over 9 times.
It looked like the Lakers had pulled away for good after Gasol finished on a lob from Derek Fisher. That put them up 119-108 with under three and a half minutes to play. But the Warriors climbed back in it and had the ball down three with under 10 seconds to go. Stephen Curry inbounded the ball to Corey Maggette. Derek Fisher inexcusably doubled Maggette, leaving Curry wide open. Curry had an amazing game, matching Bryant with a game-high 29 points but he added 9 assists and had no turnovers as compared to 9 for Bryant. Curry had hit 5 of 8 three-pointers but couldn't knock down the three to tie it. Monta Ellis grabbed the rebound, rushed to the three-point line and put up a fading three that hit the rim three times before falling off to the side.
The Lakers survived but it's not the type of win you build momentum off of. After the game though, Bryant said there's nothing the Lakers could learn from this close win. He said that the Warriors play such an unorthodox style that it's basically useless to analyze this game. Sure, the Warriors style is unique, but that's no excuse not to play defense and to turn the ball over 24 times. The more I watch the Lakers, the less I think of their chances to win a title. Will anything motivate them?