There aren't many more impressive ways to snap a brief losing streak than with a comeback win over the defending champions.
That is exactly what the Golden State Warriors did with a 115-113 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Monday's Western Conference showdown at Staples Center. Stephen Curry and Kelly Oubre Jr. led the way for the victors, who snapped a two-game skid and improved to 7-6 on the campaign by finishing on an 18-7 run.
Los Angeles saw its five-game winning streak come to an end and fell to 11-4 despite a solid showing from Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder.
LeBron James still had a chance to win it despite the Lakers' late collapse, but his buzzer-beating three-point attempt did not fall.
Notable Player Stats
- Stephen Curry, G, GSW: 26 PTS, 7 AST
- Kelly Oubre Jr., G, GSW: 23 PTS, 4 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK
- Eric Paschall, F, GSW: 19 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST
- Andrew Wiggins, F, GSW: 18 PTS, 3 REB, 3-of-5 3PT
- Anthony Davis, F, LAL: 17 PTS, 17 REB, 7 AST, 3 BLK, 2 STL
- Dennis Schroder, G, LAL: 25 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL
- LeBron James, F, LAL: 19 PTS, 5 AST, 5 REB, 5 TOs, 6-of-16 FG
Steph Leads Balanced Attack to Win
Few players in NBA history have attracted the type of defensive attention Curry has, even when he played alongside Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, so it has only been dialed up during the 2020-21 campaign when he is playing with neither.
That has resulted in a span of relative inconsistency. His previous five contests saw him score a combined 73 points in two games against the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers and 11 points on 2-of-16 shooting against the Toronto Raptors. He also scored 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting in another game against the Clippers during that stretch.
The inconsistency was on full display right out of the gates Monday as he drilled a buzzer-beating triple to end the first quarter but struggled with his shot overall as the Warriors fell behind by 16 at halftime.
Quick starts from Oubre and Eric Paschall were the only reasons the Warriors were even within striking distance, and it was Andrew Wiggins' turn in the third quarter. His three straight three-pointers cut the lead to single digits and appeared to wake Curry up for the closing stretch.
While the two-time MVP was just 3-of-12 from deep, he adjusted his game and started attacking the rim more and drawing help defenders.
That created room for key baskets from Oubre and Draymond Green as Golden State tied it and then took the lead for good in the final minutes. Fittingly, it was Curry who hit the most important shot of the game with a deep triple to go up five with 1:07 remaining not long after his key and-1 and free throws set the stage for the comeback.
Golden State is not going to match the dynasty it was just a few short years ago, but it showed how dangerous it can be Monday with Curry attracting so much attention and the supporting cast delivering when called upon.
Lethargic Closing Stretch Dooms Lakers
LeBron will forever be linked to the Warriors.
After all, he played them in four straight NBA Finals from 2015-18 and directed the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 3-1 comeback in the 2016 matchup. While Golden State won three of those four series, the comeback lives on in NBA lore and puts the King under the spotlight even more than usual whenever he lines up against this familiar foe.
Yet his teammates owned the moment Monday.
Davis threatened a triple-double in the first half while firing passes like a point guard and battling Golden State's overmatched frontcourt for boards. He helped set up Schroder, who exploded for 14 points in the opening quarter alone while darting through the defense and taking advantage of the space that comes with playing alongside AD and LeBron.
Montrezl Harrell also provided an immediate spark off the bench, and even Kyle Kuzma hit multiple three-pointers as the Lakers appeared to put the game away early.
That the supporting cast did so much of the heavy lifting during a game between James and the Warriors was notable because he was responsible for so much on those Cleveland teams. But LeBron also settled for jumpers, dealt with turnover issues and couldn't match Golden State's efforts down the stretch.
He threw an inbounds pass away as the Warriors were coming back, camped out beyond the three-point line instead of attacking and was largely a spectator while the lead disappeared.
Los Angeles' depth will be key as it chases a championship, but a better performance from James on Monday would have clinched what could have been a straightforward win.
The Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, while the Lakers travel to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.