The Golden State Warriors are a preseason juggernaut.
Golden State improved to 4-0 with a 111-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Tuesday's showdown at Staples Center. Jordan Poole and Damion Lee led the way for the Warriors, who are looking to return to the upper echelon of the Western Conference this season.
Anthony Davis (20 points and six rebounds) spearheaded the losing effort for the Lakers, who fell to 0-5 this preseason even though the Big Three of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Davis made their debut playing together.
If there were any doubt the biggest story of the game was the debut of the Lakers' Big Three, the Warriors made sure of it by sitting Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. That left the visitors without any of their own Big Three of Curry, Green and Klay Thompson, which further put Los Angeles' version under the spotlight.
While it will be far more important for all three to be dialed in during the regular season and playoffs, James (17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals) wasted little time making an impression.
The 36-year-old going into his 19th season looked spry while grabbing boards, flying down the court in transition, spinning into the lane and finishing through traffic all while controlling play in the first half.
Golden State wasn't exactly countering with its A-team, but it was clear James was the best player on the floor whenever he was engaged for stretches. That wasn't always the case, as evidenced by his six turnovers, but the burst was there even at this stage of his career.
It was far from a one-man show, as Davis started at center and was largely unstoppable as a matchup problem. Rajon Rondo and Westbrook fed him on multiple occasions, including with an alley-oop, and he extended his game beyond the blocks against Golden State's overmatched frontcourt.
Westbrook (10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists) was also his vintage self as a triple-double threat who stuffed the stat sheet by crashing the glass, getting out in transition and facilitating to his talented teammates. It wasn't difficult to envision the type of impact he will have this season, especially with so many veteran playmakers who can flash into space around him.
To the Warriors' credit, they battled without their stars even as the Lakers got double-digit scoring from marquee names in James, Davis, Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Lee (16 points and nine rebounds), Poole (18 points) and Andrew Wiggins were all aggressive on the offensive end, and Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II provided a spark off the bench. Poole had 14 points in the third quarter alone, which, along with some timely outside shooting from Porter, gave the visitors the lead heading into the fourth.
There was no better indication that this was the preseason than Lakers head coach Frank Vogel's decision not to play his stars in crunch time of a closely contested game.
That cleared the way for a Golden State victory as Avery Bradley extended a one-point lead to eight with a jumper, and-1 and assist in the middle of the fourth. His team didn't look back from there and continued its winning ways this preseason.
Both teams have one preseason game remaining. The Lakers host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, while the Warriors host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.