On paper, Sunday night’s primetime matchup between old rivals LeBron James and Steph Curry looked fantastic. In reality it was a huge letdown. The Los Angeles Lakers led by 20 points after the first quarter and cruised to a rather boring 117-91 win over the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James finished with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in just 24 minutes as he took most of the second half off. Markieff Morris, Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker all chipped in with double figures in what was a true team effort.
As for the Warriors, their leading scorer was Eric Paschall with 18 points, which is really all you need to know from their perspective. With Draymond Green knocked out of the game due to a sprained ankle, head coach Steve Kerr waived the white flag pretty early on.
Here’s some key takeaways from the Lakers’ big win:
Lakers getting back on track
The past few weeks had not been kind to the Lakers. Anthony Davis suffered a calf injury that will keep him out until sometime after the All-Star break, and shortly after the skidded through a season-high four-game losing streak. But now things are starting to look up again.
This was just the kind of dominant performance they needed to rejuvenate the squad. They jumped out to a 20-point lead after the first quarter and were able to coast the rest of the way. After logging heavy minutes this month, LeBron James only had to play 24 in this one — a season low.
Winners of two in a row, the Lakers have climbed back into second place in the Western Conference. If they can string a few more victories together this week they could go into the break on a high note.
Green goes down
Late in the first half, Draymond Green was hustling back on transition defense and made a nice play to force Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into a missed layup. Unfortunately, the two got tangled up a bit on the landing, and Green rolled his ankle when he stepped on Caldwell-Pope’s foot.
At first he tried to walk it off and told the bench he didn’t want to come out of the game, but that soon became impossible. He went back to the locker room and didn’t emerge for the second half, at which point the team announced he would be out for the remainder of the game.
It’s still too early to know how long he’ll be sidelined, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Warriors be cautious and just sit him through the All-Star break. That way he’ll get nearly two full weeks off and could hopefully come back recharged for the second half of the season.
Schroder shows his influence
Much of the coverage over the last few weeks has focused on Anthony Davis’ absence, and for good reason. But he wasn’t the only key member of the Lakers on the sidelines. Dennis Schroder was also out due to a stint in the league’s health and safety protocols and missed four games — all losses for L.A.
He didn’t exactly put up crazy numbers against the Warriors — 12 points, three rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes — but he once again showed the impact he has on this team. It’s little surprise that the Lakers’ offense was more dynamic on Sunday considering for the season their offensive rating is plus-9.1 points per 100 possessions higher with Schroder on the court.
For all their talent, the Lakers don’t have many players who can create outside of James and Davis. And when Schroder was out as well, their offense really ground to a halt. His quickness allows him to get into the lane, where he can put pressure on the defense in ways many of his teammates cannot. From there, he’s able to score himself, get to the line or kick the ball out to open teammates.