The loss against Phoenix had plenty of cute excuses that were taken out of the box long before the game ended. The loss at Staples Center on Friday versus the Wizards, one of the most atrocious teams in the NBA, absolutely had no reason or rhyme why it happened — not even to a Lakers (36-34) team that embodies such an enigmatic personality.
After watching his team allow Washington eat up an 18-point lead enroute to a 103-100 frustration, Mike D'Antoni did not hold any punches aimed at his team and even called their team huddle go-cheer of 'championship' "laughable" during his post-game interview slash rant. The rollercoasting stamina in effort and focus has been a season-long theme for the Lakers, but there comes a time during the season when the team has to take it upon themselves to demand better of themselves if they are truly serious about winning that championship.
They can start tonight against one of the teams they're hoping to chasedown above them in the standings.
The Golden State Warriors (40-31) had picked themselves up a bit after starting the 2nd half of the season 3-10. Since then, they have won 7 of their last 11.
The Warriors can be impressive on defense at times, but they are a team that generally look to outscore their opponent. No other team in the league fits the mold of a perimeter team better than Golden State — perhaps, the very reason why they have yet to defeat the Lakers this season.
Despite having Andrew Bogut and David Lee in the post, the Warriors rely heavily on their ability to shoot the basket from distance and shoot they can. Golden State is tops in 3-pt. field goal efficiency at 40.2% per game. That has a lot to do with the league's best 3-pt. shooter Stephen Curry.
Curry has made 224 of his 489 attempts (45.8%) from another county naturally making him his team's leading scorer at 22.4 points per outing. But his talents don't stop there, Curry is also getting team-high 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals a game for them. He may be a key focus for the Lakers tonight, but he's certainly not the only problem.
If not for Kobe Bryant's 34-point barrage, the Lakers probably would have dropped their previous meeting with the Warriors at the ORACLE Arena. In that game, Jarrett Jack had a monster of a night coming off the bench with his 29 points and 11 assists. He made 13 of his 19 attempts because the Lakers could not find anyone to defend him until Kobe took on the challenge in the 4th quarter.
Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes round off the immediate concerns for the Lakers. Thompson is averaging 16.5 points on a 37.5% clip against the Lakers this season while Barnes is getting 10 points on a 42.9% efficiency. Both guys are sharpshooters who are athletic enough to take it to the rim as well. If the Lakers happen to slow down both Curry and Jack, Thompson and Barnes could very well take over the offense for Golden State.
Including tonight, there are 12 games left for the Lakers on their schedule. While keeping a spot in the playoffs is certainly a goal for them, it's also a pressing issue for the Lakers to start preparing for the playoffs mentally.
The Lakers may be built for the playoffs, as some people like to call them, but they are fooling themselves if they think that whatever they don't fix now will not bite them against any team they face in the playoffs.
This is the 3rd of 4 meetings against the Warriors this season. The Lakers are looking to take the season series with their 3rd-straight win over this team tonight. L.A. has won the last 6 games over Golden State and has not lost at the ORACLE Arena since April 6, 2011.
INJURY UPDATE — Antawn Jamison: According to Lakers.com, Antawn Jamison will give it a go tonight after spraining his shooting wrist on a dunk attempt against the Wizards. Jamison says his wrist is still sore but not enough to keep him out of action and as long as the pain doesn't become too unbearable.
Matchup of the Game
Steve Nash vs. Stephen Curry: Nash has played against Curry just once this season but his 12-point, 9-assist performance was enough to help hand the Warriors their 2nd loss against the Lakers. Nash had an easy time dissecting the Warrior defense in the 4th quarter the previous game. If the same happens tonight, the Lakers should get another W. But if Curry gets hot on those pick-and-rolls, watch out!
Keys to the Game
> Mental Approach: The Lakers have fooled around enough the past 2 games. It's time to get back to business and come out of the locker room with a conscious, collective intent to put on a complete game tonight.
> Defense: If the Lakers allow the Warriors to get too many open shots, they will likely be down big before halftime. They have to put on a physical, hard-nosed defensive effort that will challenge shots and crowd the paint if they want to put away this team quickly.
> Turnovers: Their 20 turnovers in this building back in December nearly prevented them from coming back to win the game. They may not be so lucky again tonight if they continue with their lazy passes and bonehead decisions on offense.
Watch Out For
LAKERS: Metta World Peace: MWP is going to be one of those key guys for the Lakers in this matchup. Not only is his defense important to deal with the hottest hand the Warriors may have, but Metta's offense to knock down those open 3-pointers could prove to be the difference tonight. MWP is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds and 1.5 steals against the Warriors this season.
WARRIORS: Carl Landry: The Lakers should be very familiar with what Landry can bring to the table. His energy, activity on the glass and ability to convert those mid-range jumpers seem to be a steady nuisance for the Lakers. Landry averages 9 points and 8 boards versus the Lakers this year.
@ Golden State Warriors
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. (PST)
TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW
LAKERS: Jordan Hill (hip) is out. Antawn Jamison (wrist) is day-to-day.
WARRIORS: Stephen Curry (ankle) is listed as questionnable but will play tonight. Brandon Rush (knee) is out.