The Los Angeles Lakers paid a visit to Oracle Arena Saturday night, and their matchup with the Golden State Warriors proved to be one of the most exciting contests of the entire 2012-13 season. Steve Nash made his long-awaited return to the starting lineup, and the Lakers took down the home squad, 118-115, in overtime.
L.A. came out in this game with great energy, but the Warriors weren’t afraid to play at an equally frantic pace. Both teams were playing sloppy basketball early, but it was Los Angeles that was able to capitalize with 15 points off of turnovers in the first quarter.
Neither team was able to grasp momentum out of the gate because of self-inflected wounds, but Golden State was able to get the crowd involved just a few minutes into the second period. Los Angeles began turning the ball over, it couldn’t stop the Warriors in transition and the home team outscored the Lakers by 12 in the quarter.
The second half began with the Lakers down eight points, and while Golden State increased its lead early, the hustle and effort from Kobe Bryant helped keep this game within reach. The problem is that nobody else seemed capable of stepping up at that point, and the team trailed 87-74 heading into the final period.
L.A. hadn’t played a game since Tuesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, and that kind of rest is what helped them get back in this game. With Bryant on the bench, the team moved the ball well, found open shots and officially made this a battle late. Upon Bryant’s return to the floor, the Lakers took a one-point lead with just under four minutes to go, and the game would ultimately go to extra time following a number of clutch buckets both ways.
In overtime, no one team ever established momentum. The pace was fast, emotions were high and each group wanted this one as badly as the other. It came down to who could execute on the final possession, and it was the Lakers who got the final stop.
Los Angeles has now won four straight, and it's officially time to prepare for the New York Knicks on Christmas Day.