Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ season finale against the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers are on a season-ending tear, having won all of their last five games. By knocking off Golden State, the purple and gold would secure their first six-game, single-season winning streak since April 2011. Los Angeles has pulled out some close ones to get to this point, having won four games by seven points or fewer.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Lakers, who defeated New Orleans on Tuesday night before immediately catching a flight to Oakland for tonight’s game. In what may have been his final game at Staples Center, Metta World Peace put the home fans into a frenzy by scoring 18 points with four steals. World Peace’s biggest scoring night in four years resulted in chants of “Metta! Metta!” and his teammates throwing water on him in celebration.
While all eyes were on World Peace, Brandon Ingram briefly stole the spotlight with the most vicious play of his rookie year. The 19-year-old built some momentum coming downhill, giving New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo no shot at stopping him at the rim. Ingram was unphased by the challenge as he threw down the one-handed, and-1 slam while the arena went wild.
Ingram is looking to end his first season with one more game of double-digit scoring, having hit that mark in each of his last 15 full games. The second-overall pick has shined during this stretch, averaging 14.1 points on 49.7 percent shooting.
It’s been a while since the Lakers last saw the Warriors, having played them three times in November alone. L.A. dominated the first game by 20 points at home, but Golden State asserted itself in the latter two, winning by an average of 34.5 points.
As expected, the Warriors’ surplus of talent has them atop the NBA standings. For three weeks they were practically unbeatable, winning 14 straight games before finally falling to Utah on Monday. This ridiculous run isn’t even surprising considering that Golden State leads the league in offensive efficiency (113.3 points per 100 possessions) and ranks second in defensive efficiency (101.2).
The Lakers will have some openings to take advantage of as Defensive Player of the Year candidate Draymond Green and Sixth Man of the Year nominee Andre Iguodala will both rest this game. However, the Lakers will be without D’Angelo Russell, who returned home to Louisville following the unexpected death of his grandmother.
The Warriors recently returned former MVP Kevin Durant, who missed five weeks of action due to injury. The four-time scoring champion is having the most efficient season of his career, averaging 25.0 points on a career-best 53.5 percent clip from the field, which ranks second among guards and wings, behind only LeBron James (54.8).
Of course, the Warriors also boast the services of reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who has popped off for exactly 42 points in two of his last four games. Curry surged in Durant’s absence and currently ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring (25.4 ppg), while unsurprisingly leading all players in made 3-pointers (4.1).
Curry’s backcourt partner, Klay Thompson, is coming into this game especially hot, having scored at least 20 points in eight straight games. The son of Showtime Laker Mychal Thompson, Klay has filled the bucket all year long, putting up a career-high 22.5 points per game while ranking second in the NBA in triples (3.5) behind Curry.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right patellar tendinitis) is probable. D’Angelo Russell (personal reasons) and Ivica Zubac (high right ankle sprain) are out.
Warriors: Draymond Green (rest), Andre Iguodala (rest), Matt Barnes (right foot/ankle sprain) and Kevon Looney (left hip strain) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW