The Los Angeles Lakers got down big early against the Golden State Warriors Monday night and had to continue their trend of playing from behind as of late. A first-quarter 12-point deficit turned into a halftime 23-point deficit, giving the Lakers a ton of work to do.
Kobe Bryant had a solid third quarter, as did Steve Nash, but the backcourt got little support from the front line and the game was just never able to turn around.
The general trend for the entire game was the go-to problem with the Los Angeles offense, as they put together one of two possessions. Either Kobe played some isolation ball, or Steve Nash or Steve Blake did their best to run a play through the post.
Defensively, Los Angeles was a complete disaster. Golden State's guards constantly found themselves open for jump shots, which is a shame because every guard they have is capable of knocking down a jumper. Jarrett Jack, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry all had huge nights for the Warriors, combining for 66 points.
Los Angeles did have a huge chance to cut into Golden State's lead in the third quarter, shooting nine free throws at the end of the quarter, but they ended up making just two of them. What could have been an 11-point game remained an 18-point game.
The Lakers did end up making a run, but the Warriors made just enough shots and the Lakers missed just enough to leave the comeback just out of their grasp, falling 109-103 at the Oracle Arena.
It was a rough loss, shrinking Los Angeles' eighth-seed lead to just a game over the Utah Jazz.
Stat Line: 21 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 9-of-19 shooting
After watching Stephen Curry hit jump shot after jump shot, the only thing we can really say about Steve Nash is that he is what we thought he would be.
Nash's defensive game was atrocious, but when he's playing against one of the fastest, most skilled guards in the NBA, Nash is going to have a bad night on one end of the floor. It's almost a foregone conclusion.
Offensively, Nash had a terrific night.
The Lakers were looking for offensive production from any and every outlet possible, and Nash gave them just that.
Nash made 75 percent of his shots midway through the third quarter, dishing out dimes even though he wasn't in a position of primary ball-handling duties. Scoring points in big situations has become Nash's prime objective this year, which he's done perfectly.
He rapidly went downhill and didn't make a single field goal after the six-minute mark in the third quarter, however, save the final shot of the game.
Stat Line: 36 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 11-of-27 shooting
Kobe Bryant never really picked up the distribution side of the offense, opting instead to go hard at the rim and get to the free-throw line as much as possible.
Once he realized that this was going to be an insane offensive night, Kobe buckled down and went back to shooting like mad. It didn't work well.
Bryant shot far too much in the first two quarters, mostly because that's just the only thing he was doing—shooting.
Once the third quarter rolled around, Kobe got to the point where he realized that attacking the basket was going to work out better for him and his team, and he ended up shooting 11 free throws in the third quarter.
Kobe's scoring outburst was what the Lakers needed, it just wasn't enough.
Stat Line: 7 points, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2-of-3 shooting.
Metta World Peace drew the Klay Thompson cover for the first half, and he did a good job staying on him. He just didn't do a very good job of making him miss shots.
Thompson made four of seven three-pointers in the first half and absolutely exploded offensively. World Peace played fine defense, Thompson was just better on this particular evening.
To World Peace's credit, he was able to force a few steals, but his defensive effort wasn't enough to cover the huge gaps in the defense that the Lakers left open.
Metta did not return after halftime, as he slipped on a wet spot at some point in the second quarter and strained his left knee. The Lakers certainly missed him.
Offensively, he was plenty efficient, making a few ridiculous shots and getting to the line a bit along the way.
Stat Line: 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3-of-8 shooting
There are bad games, and then there are games like the one Pau Gasol had against the Warriors Monday night.
When they need something of an offensive contribution from Gasol after reinserting him into the starting lineup, Gasol has to be assertive and at least put the ball on the floor ever once in a while. He was all jumpers Monday night.
That's fine when Gasol's shots are falling, but when he's hitting every part of the rim, it's hard to defend.
Defensively, Gasol just didn't seem to have any energy. Whether it was a lack of effort or just being out of shape after missing over a month of basketball is up for debate, but he was rotating slowly, closing out terribly and completely blowing coverage on David Lee.
Stat Line: 11 points, 15 rebounds, 1 steal, 4-of-8 shooting
Dwight Howard needs to anchor the defense, and when the Lakers give up 109 points in regulation, he's got some explaining to do.
Howard was terrible—there's really no other way to put it.
Sure, his rebounding was fine—he blocked a shot and a steal—but he completely failed the eye test versus GS.
He was constantly getting beat by Harrison Barnes in the first quarter, getting shot over by Jarrett Jack in the third, looking over his shoulder as guys rolled in through the back door all night long, and constantly watched as Andrew Bogut pulled down offensive rebounds.
Howard failed to rotate at all when Warriors got into the paint, he seemed sulky once the team got down by more than 20 points, and his assertiveness was nonexistent.
There would have been a bit of credence left to Howard apologists had Howard contributed a solid offensive game, but he was unable to pull down offensive boards (two), turned the ball over (four) and just didn't seem interested in trying too hard on offense.
Stat Line: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 5-of-14 shooting
Jodie Meeks threw together a decent game after Steve Blake spent most of the game as the only one getting many minutes off the bench, but it wasn't enough for the Lakers.
Meeks put in 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, giving the Lakers a bit of life and a bit of an option outside of Kobe and Nash.
He wasn't able to hit a few shots that would have given the Lakers a chance to put a bigger scare into the Warriors, but he did his part (which is more than any other member of the bench can say).
Sure, a few more three-pointers falling earlier in the game would have certainly helped things out, but he made them when the Lakers were rolling and the Warriors were stumbling, giving Lakers fans something to get excited about.
Stat Line: 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 7-of-26 shooting.
Let's start things off by setting Jodie Meeks' modest stat line aside. The Lakers bench combined for eight points, six rebounds, two assists and a block.
Normally I would say chalk that up to a starter-heavy game in which bench players didn't get to see much court time, but it's not like they were completely shut out of the game.
Earl Clark was the only one with a legitimate excuse, as he's gone from starters' minutes to playing just 10 minutes in this one. He was never able to get into a rhythm.
Antawn Jamison made just one of his five shots and Steve Blake played 34 minutes and scored exactly three points.
The bench was an utter disgrace.