Stanley Johnson and Austin Reaves defend the hoop vs. GSW

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Warriors - 4/7/22

by Matthew Barrero

The Lakers (31-48) were officially eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday night following their loss to the Phoenix Suns. L.A. will look to split the season series against Golden State (50-29) tonight in the Bay Area. Exclusive coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Pacific on TNT.

Here are three things to know before the game:

THE HARSH REALITY
Accompanied by a San Antonio Spurs win over the Denver Nuggets earlier in the night, it was a bittersweet ending in the Lakers chase for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.

But it wasn’t without one last ditch effort during Tuesday’s game in Phoenix.

The Purple and Gold started on the right foot and led by as many as eight points in the early goings and actually led at the end of the first quarter. The Suns responded well which was no surprise to anyone, but the gritty Lake Show kept it a fight through halftime (trailed by five).

Unfortunately like many times during this season, it was the third quarter woes that got the best of L.A. as Phoenix took a stronghold of the game, outscored the Lakers 35-22, and never looked back the rest of the contest.

“Extremely disappointed,” Frank Vogel expressed in the postgame. “Disappointed for our fan base. Disappointed for the Buss family, who gave us all this opportunity and we want to play our part in bringing success to Laker basketball and we fell short.”

In a season plagued by multiple injuries, poor health (Covid-19 related), and an inability to put out a consistent lineup on a night-to-night basis, Anthony Davis summed up his disappointment with the thought of what could they have been?

“We had more starting lineups than wins,” Davis said. “Our goal was to win a championship…injuries got in the way of that.”

WHAT COMES NEXT
LeBron James (ankle), Anthony Davis (foot), and Russell Westbrook (shoulder) will not play in tonight’s game. This gives an opportunity to the other veterans and younger Lakers to put in some minutes and possibly pick up a win to shake up the final standings of the West seeds.

LeBron James has only played in two of the last seven games (will miss his fifth of the last six) due to nagging ankle injury that occurred in New Orleans on March 27. The lingering question is whether or not LeBron will play in the final two games for a chance at the NBA scoring title.

In his absence, 76ers center Joel Embiid (30.4) has overtaken the lead from James by just a tenth of a point. In order to qualify for the scoring title, James would need to play in the final two games to reach 58 games played in the regular season.

Focusing on players who will be in the Laker lineup tonight, Austin Reaves has put together two solid outings of two-way play against the Warriors. While he did not play on opening night, Reaves has averaged 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and has shot 66.7 percent from the field and from beyond the arc. Of those who played at least two games vs GSW, Reaves has the fourth-lowest defensive rating (110.9).

FINAL MEETING
In their last get-together on March 5, LeBron James put on show in front of a packed Crypto.com Arena crowd that included Rams Super Bowl Champion quarterback Matthew Stafford.

James scored a Lakers season-high 56 points on 61.3 percent shooting (6-of-11 from three) and tacked on 10 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season, third in as many games against GSW, and the sixth 50-point double-double of his career.

He became the first Laker to tally 55-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in one game since Shaq in 2000 and the oldest player in NBA history to record the same stats.

Golden State enters tonight as the No. 3 seed but only leads Dallas by a half game and have been without Steph Curry since March 16 (Curry is not expected to return in the remaining regular season games).

In those 10 games without Curry, the Warriors are just 3-7, have scored the second-fewest points (104.7), and have the fourth-worst field goal percentage (44.7) in the NBA.

Jordan Poole has taken advantage of the extra touches given the absence of Curry. He leads the team in scoring (27.9), is second in assists (5.4), and has the third-highest three-point percentage (40.5). Poole has registered 20-plus points in 17 straight games and hit, an NBA-best, 67 threes in the March.

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