The latest edition of the Golden State Warriors reviews the Dubs’ 99-87 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, at home, on Wednesday night. The score doesn’t indicated exactly how easy this game was for the Lakers.
The NorCal vs. SoCal rivalry is always a fan favorite, typically a matchup that draws droves of Bay Area fans to the Oracle Arena. While the announced crowd was 18,547, clearly the audience was sparser than anticipated, and it thinned out even more as the game wore—and bore—on. Maybe the vacant seats had to do with the fact that Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was inactive for the seventh consecutive game. Or that the Warriors were no longer featuring a lineup that included NBA stars Monta Ellis (trade), Stephen Curry (injury) and David Lee (injury).
Maybe it had to do with the riveting San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies game across the Bay. Or it could have been because fans simply wanted to avoid the malodorous scent of the Warriors stinking up the joint.
The Dubs were inevitably on their way to their sixth straight defeat, and nobody really wants to watch that—especially if Bryant is not suited up. Might as well watch a competitive baseball game at a bar or catch that awaiting Game of Thrones episode on DVR, right?
What the fortunate fans at Oracle Arena witnessed, however, was the excitement of the Golden State Warriors’ pursuit of a bottom-seven record in the league, which would allow them to retain their lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft. Would the pesky Warriors, without Curry, without Lee and without their remaining best player, Nate Robinson, who was nursing a sore hamstring, be able to beat the Pacific Division-leading Lakers squad?
After all, everyone wants their hometown team to beat L.A., and the Warriors have put up some wonderful efforts over the years against their intrastate rivals. But the big boys of Los Angeles wouldn’t actually take Golden State lightly and somehow lose Wednesday’s contest, would they?
The final score indicates that it might have been mildly competitive—but it wasn’t. Los Angeles dominated the middle with their twin towers, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ frontcourt featured rookie Jeremy Tyler and Mickell Gladness, who probably wasn't smiling after his counterpart Gasol tallied 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers commanded the paint, finishing with 55 rebounds as a team, compared to the Warriors’ measly 40.
The Lakers’ frontline was magnificently too much for the famished young Warriors squad, shooting 28 times from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, Golden State finished with a paltry 10 free-throw attempts. Each time the Warriors narrowed the margin to six or seven points, Los Angeles would step back onto the gas pedal and pull away.
Such was to be expected.
If the Warriors are hoping to tank the rest of the way in order to secure their draft pick, they need to lose the games they’re supposed to lose. (Although, don’t mention the word tank to anyone at Golden State.) They need to go on a crusade to continue their current streak until season's end.
The Warriors currently have the eighth-worst record in the league, while the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors both sit behind Golden State with 22-41 records. The Dubs need to have one—or both—of those teams win one more game in order to feel safer about their own ineptitude. Otherwise, it’s possible the Warriors will finish the season out of the bottom seven.
With five games remaining on this excruciating schedule, the Dubs need to muster all of their energy to losing each and every one of them. This weekend offers an extremely losable trifecta of games on the road against the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves—the Warriors’ only back-to-back-to-back set on the season. What a perfect bit of timing for the Warriors’ Tank Watch.
Speaking of perfect: The Los Angeles Lakers whooped the Warriors last night. As expected. And as needed.
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