Lakers resume season with match-up against Golden State Warriors

The Lakers defeated the Warriors in a double overtime thriller in their first match-up, 145-144.

The All-Star break is over and the NBA season is back at it on Thursday night. Will the weekend halt any of the Lakers’ momentum or are they going to continue their hot play as we approach the homestretch of the regular season?

Their first game back is not the easiest of them all. They’re going against the Golden State Warriors.

In actuality, both teams are coming out of the break scorching. Both the Lakers and Warriors are winners of 6 of their last 7 games. L.A. has really touted about their last 15 games. In that span, they were 5th in offensive rating, second in assists, and fourth in three-point percentage. Yes, I’m talking about the Lakers. They have actually been shooting the three really well. The Lakers have gone 10-5 in those 15 games.

Funny enough, the Warriors have an even bigger reason to brag about those 15 games: 4th in offensive rating, first in assists, and first in three-point percentage. Warriors did go 9-6 but as mentioned, they are 6-1 in their last 7 games so it’s even more encouraging that they’ve been getting it done as of late.

Part of that 15-game span for both teams was their first game of the season against each other. These two teams went on a marathon, going double overtime in what was possibly the best game of the NBA season. LeBron James made the game-winning free throws with 1.2 seconds left after a stirring back-and-forth between the Lakers and Warriors. LeBron’s line was a sight to behold: 39-year-old went for 36 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Even at this age, LeBron is still doing this.

But L.A. won’t have LeBron in this rematch; he’s out with an ankle injury. It’s a bit puzzling since he did play in the All-Star game. Yes, it is a back-to-back as the Lakers go back home to face the Spurs on Friday night but you would think the Lakers would play their best players against the better team and rest him against a more inferior squad.

Still, it’s not like the Lakers aren’t capable of winning without their stars, let alone two. But it’ll definitely be tougher without the four-time MVP. And these Warriors, even at the end of their dynasty, aren’t going down just like that.

Stephen Curry, coming off an enthralling three-point shootout against the WNBA’s Sabrina Ionescu at All-Star weekend, scored 46 points against the Lakers last January 27th. We all know he’s made big shots throughout his career and it was no exception against the Lakers. Klay Thompson was made to come off the bench right before the break against Utah and he fired away to the tune of 35 points in a Dubs win. Head coach Steve Kerr said that Klay will come off the pine for now. Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga did great against the Lakers (22 points each) and Draymond nearly got a triple-double in that game (8-14-11). Also, rookie Brandin Podziemski took Klay’s place in the first five and he did well against Utah last week (13-6-8).

So it seems like the Warriors are clicking a bit more as they try to infuse the team with more youth with Kuminga and Podziemski. And they still have Chris Paul waiting in the wings, who won’t play on Thursday night but is said to be almost back.

As for the Lakers, maybe they can match the Warriors’ three-point shooting this time around; Warriors had an overwhelming advantage in that first game, 23 three-pointers made to 9 for the Lakers. The Lakers can also do better coming off the halftime break as the Warriors jumped on them with a 25-5 run in that all-important third quarter. Jarred Vanderbilt changed the game for them then but he’s also out for the next few weeks so they’re going to have to play grinding defense without him.

Both teams are shorthanded but they know what’s at stake here. The 9th-seeded Lakers are still 3.5 games behind the 6th spot and they need every win they can get. And the Warriors, a game-and-a-half behind the Lakers, know they have to do the same thing.

It’s the last third of the NBA regular season. Make sure the seat belts are on.