The struggling Los Angeles Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak with a 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at Crypto.com Arena to improve to 28-35.
It was an impressive win for the Lakers, who have struggled all season because of injuries and inconsistencies from an offseason roster makeover. However, the Warriors have struggled of late, losing each of their last four games.
The extended absences of Draymond Green and James Wiseman have limited the Warriors thus far, especially on defense. The absence of Green certainly was felt Saturday, and it's unclear when he might return.
As for the Lakers, they'll take any win they can get right now as they continue to hover around one of the play-in round spots in the Western Conference standings.
LeBron James, SF, LAL: 56 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST
Stephen Curry, PG, GSW: 30 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST
Russell Westbrook, PG, LAL: 20 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST
Jordan Poole, SG, GSW: 23 PTS, 1 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL
Carmelo Anthony, PF, LAL: 14 PTS, 8 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK
Jonathan Kuminga, PF, GSW: 18 PTS, 5 REB, 2 STL
LeBron James' Performance Highlights How Much Help Lakers Need
James had an incredible performance for the Lakers on Saturday night, finishing with 56 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in what was arguably his best game of the season.
The four-time NBA champion put the team on his back, which has become common for him throughout his career. However, he's gotten a lot more help from his teammates in the past than he has this season, and the Lakers really need some other players to step up.
L.A. is still hovering around a spot in the play-in round because players aside from James haven't consistently done their job.
Anthony Davis is sidelined with a mid-foot sprain, which certainly doesn't help, but players like Russell Westbrook have been mediocre throughout the season.
Westbrook finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists Saturday night, but did so while shooting 9-of-17 from the field and committing five turnovers.
The veteran point guard has had one of the worst seasons of his career, averaging 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 43.3 percent from the floor and 28.4 percent from deep entering Saturday.
He's played so poorly that "many" within the Lakers organization want to demote him to the bench, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported recently. One of the only reasons he might not have been demoted yet is because Frank Vogel has "resisted" the idea of not starting him.
If Westbrook can find a way to get more production out of Westbrook and several of their other veterans, they should at least earn a spot in the play-in round.
Warriors Significantly Missing Draymond Green
The Warriors have now given up more than 120 points in three of their last four games, and it's quite clear they need some help on defense before things go south quickly.
Green, Payton and Igoudala, three of the team's best defenders, remain out of the lineup with injuries. However, the Warriors are missing Green the most. The 32-year-old hasn't played since a Jan. 5 loss to the Dallas Mavericks due to a back injury, and while he's progressing toward a return, it's unclear when he'll re-take the court.
When Green plays, the Warriors are 28-6. When he's out of the lineup, they're 15-15, which further highlights their struggles. The past two weeks have been especially difficult for the Warriors, as they're allowing 118.7 points per 100 possessions in that time.
To further highlight how much Green means to the franchise, one Warriors staff member told ESPN's Kendra Andrews recently: "He's the control center of everything we do." In addition, Iguodala mentioned that "everything" becomes easier when Green is on the court.
Luckily for the Warriors, they still have the second-best record in the Western Conference at 43-21. When Green returns, things should sort themselves out for the Dubs, but until then, the team will need to figure something out on defense.
The Warriors will travel to face the Denver Nuggets on Monday, while the Lakers will be on the road to face the San Antonio Spurs.