D'Angelo Russell releases a layup against the Golden State Warriors on March 6, 2016.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Lakers Throttle Champion Warriors

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The Lakers entered with one win in their last 11 games. The Golden State Warriors entered with an NBA-record 55 wins in their 60 games this year.

But the defending champions weren’t about to add another victory to their collection, as the Lakers treated a nationally televised audience to a 112-95 disassembling of the Warriors.

Los Angeles’ young guards, D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, combined for 46 points to best their counterparts from Golden State: reigning MVP Stephen Curry and All-Star Klay Thompson.

Clarkson — who was questionable to play this game due to a patellar strain — led all players with 25 points while Russell followed with 21 and four steals. At the same time, Curry (18 points) and Thompson (15) combined to shoot just 13-of-40 from the field.

“They were playing against the best backcourt in the league,” head coach Byron Scott said. “If you want to get measured or get talked about as a young backcourt that has a chance to be very good, you have to measure up against these two guys. I though they took the challenge from the start.”

Curry — the NBA’s scoring leader and MVP favorite — averaged 41.6 points in his four games entering Sunday’s contest. He made the first basket of the game on a 3-pointer one minute in, but from there he and Thompson missed each of their following 18 triples.

Even Draymond Green, who finished one point and one assist shy of a triple-double, had a rough outing, shooting 2-of-7, while committing seven turnovers and five fouls.

“It’s just one of those nights that you want to avoid at all costs,” Curry said. “But it happened and we’ll be alright.”

Golden State — which is on pace for the most 3s and second-highest 3-point percentage of all-time — couldn’t stop clanging off the rim, shooting a season-worst 4-of-30 from downtown.

While Clarkson and Russell provided solid individual defense on Golden State’s guards, they both credited their bigs’ pick-and-roll coverage for their foes’ awful clip.

“They were playing high up on screens, making them shoot over two guys,” Clarkson said. “They did a really good job today.”

Even on offense, it was clearly more than just the “Russell and Clarkson Show.” Seven Lakers finished in double figures, including Kobe Bryant (12 points) — who also provided valued advice from the sideline — and Marcelo Huertas (10 points) — who was one assist shy of his first double-double.

“Marcelo was probably MVP tonight,” Scott said. “When we needed a basket, he either scored or got somebody an open shot.”

From the beginning, it was clearly an off night for the defending champs, as the Lakers (13-51) sneaked out to a 22-21 lead at the end of the first quarter, despite shooting just 9-of-29.

Russell took over from there, providing 13 of his points and a trio of 3-pointers in the second quarter. When the Warriors cut L.A.’s lead to three late in the half, the purple and gold responded with a 13-2 run to push that advantage back up to 60-46 just before intermission.

The second half was more of the same for Golden State, which went 1-of-15 on 3s the rest of the way, finally snapping its drought on a last-minute hit shortly after the Lakers built their lead to a game-high 23 points.

“It’s actually pretty easy to explain,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s the NBA, and if you’re not ready to play, anything can happen — and we weren’t ready. We had zero attention span out there, at either end of the floor.”

In front of a sold-out crowd at Staples Center, Los Angeles avoided being swept by Golden State for the first time in 22 years. The Warriors steamrolled the Lakers in each of their first three meetings by an average of 27.7 points.

This time around, Kerr put it simply: “We got what we deserved.”

Notes
The Warriors fell 25 points short of their league-best 115.4 scoring average. … Brandon Bass (13 points, three blocks), Nick Young (13 points) and Julius Randle (12 points, 14 rebounds) also scored double figures. … Curry scored eight points in 22 minutes after hitting 10 in the first quarter. … The Warriors were without reigning NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, while Lou Wiliams (hamstring) and Anthony Brown (foot) were out for L.A.

#KB20

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