The Los Angeles Lakers have now beaten the Golden State Warriors in all three of their preseason matchups after their 126-93 win Wednesday night at Staples Center in L.A.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James were back on the floor for the Lakers after resting Monday, and their presence was definitely felt. Davis' return was an especially good sign for the team given he hurt his thumb during a preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 12.
Stephen Curry was the most notable player absent from the lineup due to rest for the Warriors, and Golden State's shooting percentage sagged as a result.
Lakers F LeBron James: 18 points, four rebounds, 11 assists, one steal
Lakers F Anthony Davis: eight points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, two blocks
Lakers G Quinn Cook: 16 points, two rebounds, three assists
Lakers C Dwight Howard: 13 points, seven rebounds
Lakers C JaVale McGee: 12 points, six rebounds, one steal, one block
Lakers G Avery Bradley: 18 points
Warriors G D'Angelo Russell: 23 points, three rebounds, three assists
Warriors F Draymond Green: 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block
Warriors G Jordan Poole: 14 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal
Warriors F Marquese Chriss: eight points, four rebounds
Lakers' Regular-Season Rotation Rounding into Form
The Athletic's Marcus Thompson put it best:
James reiterated on both ends of the floor Wednesday night that the Lakers are his team, but the organization's busy offseason to reconstruct around James also began showing upside—particularly Davis:
Prior to the game, head coach Frank Vogel disclosed that he planned to give James and Davis more than 30 minutes for the first time this preseason in order to better understand what the regular-season rotation will look like:
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
Frank Vogel will start Bradley, Green, LeBron, AD and McGee, the same group that started the preseason opener at GSW. He thinks they have a chance to be “elite defensively” with that unit, and it allows him to stagger LeBron and Rondo as the playmakers for respective units.
Vogel's inkling that the unit could excel defensively was proven right, as the Lakers entered halftime up 71-45, led by James:
Additionally, the frontcourt tandem of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee continued to impress. Most notably, Howard proved that his impressive performance Monday night wasn't a fluke, and he could really be a valuable contributor once the regular season begins:
Chris Geeter McGee @geeter3
Depth for days ... it’s the size that has me very impressed (only preseason i know) .... No drop off and always have JaVale, AD, Or Dwight combo..... and when Kuz comes back spacing and shooting and versatility..... Cook/Caruso pairing off the bench I like as well https://t.co/75Tk8tgF8h
Once Kyle Kuzma—cleared for non-contact activity earlier this week—returns from his foot injury, the Lakers will have even more pop. However, it is still to be expected for this roster to experience some growing pains in the early going of the regular season. This is the preseason, and Wednesday's blowout victory was against a Warriors squad without Curry or Klay Thompson.
Vogel has his work cut out for him in managing such a newly formed roster, but the preseason so far has given a promising glimpse into the head coach's instincts for how to best maximize these talented pieces as a group.
Warriors Shooters Must Find Form to Help Stephen Curry
D'Angelo Russell was Golden State's leading scorer, but even he went just 8-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-8 from three.
As a team, the Warriors shot an abysmal 36.5 percent from the field and 21.2 percent from three.
In other words:
The Warriors were without Curry (rest) and Thompson (ACL), but there has to be another source for consistent scoring outside of the Splash Brothers. That is especially true because Thompson isn't expected to return until after the All-Star break while he continues to rehab his torn ACL from last season's NBA Finals.
The team's poor shooting night—to put it lightly—was made worse by former Warrior Quinn Cook's great debut for the Lakers. The 26-year-old point guard signed as a free agent with the Lakers on a two-year contract after spending the last two seasons in Golden State. Cook ended up going 4-of-5 from three Wednesday:
While Cook is already long gone, the Warriors still have a decision to make when it comes to forward Alfonzo McKinnie making the 15-man roster, and him going scoreless against the Lakers didn't help his case. Marquese Chriss, also vying for a roster spot, took a step ahead in that regard:
Curry will mask a lot of deficiencies—the Warriors are 36-2 all-time when Curry scores at least 40 points, per Golden State of Mind's Daniel Hardee. Even he can't be expected to do it all, though. Russell will help compensate for Thompson's absence, but the Warriors need more than that.
The Lakers and Warriors will wrap the preseason by facing off again, the third time this week, on Friday night at Golden State's new Chase Center in San Francisco.
L.A. starts the regular season on Oct. 22 against the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Warriors will begin their regular season on Oct. 24 against the Clippers.