Warriors seek payback against Lakers
The Golden State Warriors will have two sources of motivation when they host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night in Oakland, Calif.
The Warriors were humbled on national television by the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. Their 11-game winning streak came to an end in a 113-104 defeat in DeMarcus Cousins' home debut for Golden State.
The loss was just the Warriors' fourth since an equally disappointing 127-101 drubbing at the hands of James and the Lakers in the NBA's featured attraction on Christmas Day.
Los Angeles won the game going away despite the fact that James suffered a groin injury in the third quarter and watched the final 20 minutes, during which the Lakers added 12 points to their 71-57 lead.
James missed 17 games, during which the Lakers, who trailed the Warriors by just 2 1/2 games at the time, fell 10 1/2 games off the pace in the Pacific Division.
The Lakers trimmed one game off that deficit Thursday night, when they were celebrating James' return with a 123-120 overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers at the same time the Warriors were losing to the 76ers.
James was extended 40 minutes in the win, leading the victory with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
"I'm not feeling particularly great right now," James assured reporters after the marathon effort. "It's a little bit of everything. The groin is a little sore right now, but I already knew that. I hadn't played an NBA game in over a month, so I knew that was going to be a bit of a problem. My wind wasn't going to be where I wanted it to be, the timing on my shots (was off)."
James and the entire Lakers team got the day off Friday, other than to board a plane and make the one-hour flight north to Oakland.
The Warriors, meanwhile, were studying what went wrong in the loss to 76ers. One thing was obvious to Steve Kerr and his coaching staff: 15 turnovers, matching their most in the last 21 games.
"We weren't there mentally and we weren't there competitively and we got what we deserved," Kerr assessed to reporters. "They totally outplayed us in the second half. We should have had a much bigger lead at halftime, but we got really careless, and then they took it to us in the second half. We weren't ready. We didn't respond with competitive desire, intelligence and execution. We got what we deserved."
The Warriors hope to have Klay Thompson back for the Lakers after he missed Thursday's game with an illness.
Coincidentally, the absence came on the same day Thompson was selected to the All-Star team for a fifth consecutive season, joining Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
Thompson had one of his worst games of the season in the Christmas Day game, held to five points on 2-for-7 shooting.
The Warriors did not have Cousins at the time, as he was still rehabbing a surgically repaired Achilles.
The Lakers also will have a big man available Saturday who wasn't in Oakland on Christmas. JaVale McGee was dealing with pneumonia at the time, forcing the Warriors to postpone a scheduled pregame ceremony to present him his 2018 championship ring.
That has been rescheduled for Saturday.
McGee made nine starts for the Warriors in the playoffs last season, including three in Golden State's four-game sweep of the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 2, 2019