Lakers Fall in Overtime Clash with Warriors
For 48 minutes, the Lakers’ defense bothered Kevin Durant about as much as possible. Unfortunately for the purple and gold, this game lasted longer than 48 minutes.
The Lakers forced overtime against the defending champions, but Durant awoke in the extra period, hitting big shots to deliver Golden State a 116-114 victory.
With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out due to injuries, the Lakers (10-18) did a nice job forcing the Warriors’ other all-stars — Durant and Klay Thompson — into tough shots.
At the end of regulation, Durant (6-of-25) and Thompson (6-of-23) had combined to hit just a quarter of their shots from the field.
The Lakers’ defense was particularly impressive on Durant, who entered the game averaging a league-high 33.8 points in his last four contests. While it was clearly an off night for the four-time scoring champion, L.A. exacerbated his problems with good coverage from Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and others.
L.A. also found its own offense in crunch time. Down five with a minute left in the fourth, the Lakers quickly fed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope off a screen for a 3-pointer.
Thompson then missed a wide-open 3 for the Warriors (24-6) and Ingram took advantage of their switching defense by driving past big man Kevon Looney and taking it to the rack for the game-tying layup.
Durant then missed the chance to win it, as Julius Randle provided a good last-second shot challenge. But that would be his final miss.
A couple of defensive miscommunications put the Lakers in a hole early in overtime, though they found a way to fight back.
Trailing by four with 1:53 remaining, Ingram slashed to the basket, causing the entire defense to collapse on him before kicking out to the Lakers’ scoring leader, Kuzma, who sunk his fourth 3-pointer to increase his total to 25 points.
It was a nice bit of playmaking for Ingram, who continued to thrive with the ball in his hands by putting up 19 points and five assists.
Then Ball got downhill for a driving layup to take the lead. The teams traded free throws from there, tying the game for Durant’s final shot of the night.
He drew a switch onto Ball, who tried to hang with the eight-time all-star but got beat on a crossover. Durant sunk the pull-up jump shot, and the Lakers — who didn’t have a timeout remaining — had to settle for a Ball layup attempt that was blocked in the final seconds.
Despite the final sequence, it was an encouraging night for Ball (16 points, six assists), who scored seven points in overtime on a 3-pointer, mid-range jumper and aforementioned layup.
“It was good to see him do it late into the game instead of just facilitating,” coach Luke Walton said. “He did an incredible job of getting himself open, hitting big shots when we needed them, flying around on defense, rebounds, things of that nature.”
But it wasn’t enough against Durant, who had a Mamba mentality in overtime on the night that the Lakers retired both of Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers.
He scored a dozen points in OT (making all four shots), and concluded with 36 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and 12 made free throws.
Lakers fight back to force another overtime battle against Golden State, but fall short 116-114. pic.twitter.com/S3lxkVoyxE— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 19, 2017
Dunking on KD
Durant’s blistering overtime performance might have been revenge for his presence on the receiving end of three monster dunks by the Lakers.
Randle started it off midway through the first quarter by hitting a full sprint in transition before receiving a pass from Caldwell-Pope. The long runway gave him too much momentum for Durant, who tried to stop him at the hoop.
Then it was Jordan Clarkson’s turn at the end of the opening frame.
The second unit point guard beat his man at mid-court, giving him a similarly big head start. By the time he reached the paint, he was ready to split a twin contest from Durant and Omri Casspi.
Finally, Larry Nance Jr. provided what may have been the magnum opus of his young dunking career.
Known for putting players around the league on posters, Nance wasn’t about to be intimidated by one of the NBA’s top shot blockers.
Early in the second half, he received a bounce pass in transition and immediately turned off the gravity. Way above Durant’s challenge, Nance cocked the ball back for a vicious tomahawk slam.
This bewildered his teammates on the bench, as Ball immediately began snapping imaginary photos, while Thomas Bryant stomped around like a mix between Frankenstein and a toy soldier.
Randle had 15 points and 11 rebounds. … The Lakers held the Warriors to 37.6 percent shooting, including 9-of-31 on 3-pointers. … L.A. shot just 20-of-31 on free throws. … Golden State had a 15-5 advantage in offensive rebounds. … Thompson had 17 points and 10 rebounds. … A crowd of 18,997 sold out Staples Center.