Omri Casspi, Nick Young, and Strong Bench Play guide Warriors to 117-106 Win
After back-to-back losses to the trail Blazers and Timberwolves, the Golden State Warriors (51-16) returned home to take on the Los Angeles Lakers (31-36). The Warriors would be playing this game without nearly half of their roster. Stephen Curry was still out with his tweaked ankle, and the rest of the inactives were Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, David West, and Pat McCaw. The Warriors would have to be creative and lucky to beat the Lakers, who were rolling heading into this game. The Lakers were 8-2 in their last 10 games, and have been one of the best teams in the league over their last 20 games. The Warriors would have to overcome the Lakers with a new starting lineup. That lineup consisted of Quinn Cook, Nick Young, Kevin Durant, Kevon Looney, and Zaza Pachulia. The Warriors went on to win the game 117-106.
In the first quarter, neither team was really rolling early, but they were both moving the ball well. The Warriors weren’t passing as much as they do when they are being led by Steph, but they were able to get find Kevin Durant when he was open, and Quinn Cook was doing a solid job of running the offense. The Lakers were playing solid ball through the first couple minutes thanks to Brook Lopez, who hit a deep two and a three, as well as blocked a Kevin Durant dunk attempt. Kevin Durant was doing most of the scoring early, and when the first time out was called, he had eight points. Three of which came on a three to open the game. After that initial timeout, both teams continued to play pretty mediocre basketball, and both teams missed several wide-open threes. Down the stretch of the first quarter, both teams started turning the ball over more and played pretty sloppy basketball. Kevin Durant was leading both teams in scoring with 10 points, and Brook Lopez was leading the lakers with nine points. As a team, the Warriors were shooting a modest 45.5% from the field (1/5 from three), while the Lakers were shooting just 36.4%. Neither team was spectacular in the first, but they were playing competitive basketball, which is all you can really ask for. After the first, the Warriors led the Lakers, 26-23.
In the second quarter, things started to go awry for the Warriors, especially on the defensive end. While they were doing well on the defensive end in the first half of the quarter, they faltered down the stretch, and were unable to stop the Lakers unless the Lakers turned the ball over. The Warriors were doing about as well on offense as you would expect with them missing as much scoring as they were. Kevin Durant was leading the team with 16 points on 7/10 shooting. Shaun Livingston was really good off the bench, and had 11 points. Omri Casspi was also having one of his better games with the Warriors, and his constant cutting was proving effective as he had six points at the half. Omri Casspi was making an impact at both ends, and his +/- of +7 was second on the Warriors, behind JaVale McGee, who had two nice blocks in the half. The Lakers had three players with double digit scoring numbers. Brook Lopez and Isaiah Thomas both had 15 points, and most of the points for Isaiah came late in the second quarter. He even made a nice three right in the face of Andre Iguodala. Julius Randle looked to continue his stretch of great games, and he had 13 points and six rebounds at the half. Early in the quarter, the Warriors had it all working on both ends, and they grabbed a 10-point lead at one point. The Warriors’ shooting percentage rose from 45% to 52.4%, which was largely a product of strong performances from the bench. While they did play well in the beginning of the quarter, they ended up relinquishing that 10-point lead and the Lakers tied the game heading into half on an impressive tip-in from Lonzo Ball. The Warriors relinquished their lead by doing several things poorly, but the most glaring issue was turnovers, which they had 13 of by the time the buzzer sounded for halftime. At the half, the Warrior and Lakers were tied at 55-55.
The Warriors got off to a great start in the third quarter, hitting two quick threes thanks to Nick Young and Quinn Cook. A lot of different Warriors were getting involved in the offense, and they had five players with double-digit scoring numbers after the third. Everyone who saw the floor for the Warriors, scored by the time the third quarter ended. Jordan Bell made a couple of nice plays, one of which was an incredible dunk in traffic. Andre Iguodala hit a three, his 24th of the season. KD was still the leading scorer for the Warriors with 22 points, and on the other side, both Brook Lopez and Julius Randle were leading the Lakers with 20 points apiece. The Lakers were able to claw their way back into the game as the third quarter ended, but the Warriors were still able to hang onto their lead. The turnover problem for the Warriors continued, and they had 19 when the third quarter ended. When the buzzer sounded at the end of the third quarter, the Warriors led the Lakers, 89-82.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors were able to stay ahead and extend their lead thanks to strong play from their entire team. Kevin Durant got back into the scoring action and finished with 26 points, but he was not the key player from tonight’s game. The key players from this game were Omri Casspi and Nick Young, who combined for 33 points on 13/21 shooting. The Warriors did a really good job of moving the ball around in the second half and making sure that everyone was involved, because that kind of thing is necessary without guys like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Seven different Warriors were in double-digits for scoring, and that rarely happens. Shots were much more evenly distributed in the second half, and more importantly, shots were falling. The Lakers continued to play hard to the very end, but they just looked like they ran out of gas down the stretch. Julius Randle was their leading scorer with 22 points, but he fouled out of the game with a couple of minutes left in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Lakers struggled shooting the ball, especially from deep. They shot 45.8% overall, and 32.7% from deep. On the other side, the Warriors ended up shooting 55% from the field, but only 30% from three. The Warriors won the game, 117-106.
I was honestly surprised that the Warriors came out and pulled off a win, especially because they were missing so many key guys, and in the previous two games, they looked lost at times without Steph. They won tonight thanks to an incredible performance from the bench, who combined to score 39 points. The Warriors starters also had a pretty good game, combining to score 78 points. Several key guys off the bench stepped up and it looked like they were able to get a good rhythm going again. The most significant bench performer was Omri Casspi, who finished with 15 points on 7/8 shooting. Even though he wasn’t shooting from deep, which can be frustrating at times, there are few things as satisfying as a well executed Casspi-cut, where he catches the ball under the hoop and somehow flips the ball up and in. Overall, the bench played really well tonight, especially in the third quarter when Kevin Durant was having a tough time making shots. Zaza Pachulia also had a really good game for the Warriors, finishing with a double-double of 10 points and 12 assists.
The Warriors did struggle with certain aspects of their game tonight, and the most glaring issue was with their turnovers. They turned the ball over 22 times, and if you turn the ball over that many times against any team that isn’t tanking for a top draft pick, you are going to lose, so I was honestly shocked that the Warriors didn’t end up blowing the game. Kevin Durant had the most turnovers on the team with five, and both Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala had four apiece. The turnover issue could have been expected from this group of players though, as they played more young guys than they normally do, and had to be more creative with their plays to find ways to score, which leads to more risky passes and incomplete passes.
Like I mentioned before, I was thoroughly impressed with the effort of the Lakers. They are out of the playoff picture, but they are still competing and have looked like they could have a very promising future. Lonzo Ball did not have a great game tonight against the Warriors, but he has turned his season around after his abysmal start that had many labeling him as a bust. Julius Randle has also been incredible as of late, and has been playing like many dreamed that he would. He has been aggressive, and making highlight worthy dunks on a nightly basis. He is paying well enough to the point that now the Lakers are going to have to seriously consider keeping him this summer, instead of trading him or releasing him like they would have before, in order to land a max-contract free agent or two. Overall, Lakers fans have a lot to look forward to, and I think that their young core can be one of the best in the league in the coming seasons.
The Warriors play next on Friday, March 16, at home against the Sacramento Kings at 7:30 p.m.