Oakland, CA– The Los Angeles Lakers (20-14) remained composed despite LeBron James having to leave the game with an injury, defeating the Golden State Warriors (23-12) by a final score of, 127-101.
This game marked the first meeting between the two ball clubs this season and the first Warriors-Lakers match-up on Dec. 25 since 1954. These two teams have been looked at by many as the teams who will be competing in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers showed great composure to gut out a victory in Oakland.
The Lakers got off to a great start in the first half led by James, who finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. He set the tone for the team by being aggressive on the offensive end, taking advantage of the mismatches he had when the Warriors elected to switch on defense.
What James also had to enjoy was that he got great energy and scoring help from his teammates in the first half of play. Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac combined for 16 points and the bench combined for 21. Defensively, the Lakers were equally as superb as the Warriors would only go to the line three times and they got key Warrior players into foul trouble.
Golden State couldn’t buy a basket if it was on sale for Christmas in the first half they shot 38 percent from the field and an ice cold 22 percent from downtown. The four all-stars for the Warriors going into the second half were all held under double-digit points. Additionally, practically none of them had a game worthy of playing on Christmas.
The only saving grace for Golden State was the outstanding play from veteran Andre Iguodala, who scored 16 of his game-high 23 points going into halftime. Yet, even with Iguodala’s surge off the bench, Los Angeles remained composed and didn’t let up.
Golden State had only been down 15-plus points against an opposing team at home after halftime twice. Los Angeles would become the third team to accomplish that feat this season, taking a 65-50 lead going into the second half.
The Lakers went go up by as many as 19 to start the second half of the game and it seemed that they had complete control of the game. However, tragedy would strike and in the worst way for Los Angeles as James would leave the game with an injury early in the third quarter. Golden State, who seemed as if they wanted to concede victory to the Lakers, showed signs of life in the third frame though.
The team went on an 11-0 run led by Stephen Curry, who finished the game with 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting. The Warriors would cut the lead to down by as many as two points in the third and would only be down nine going into the final quarter of play (91-82).
It seemed as if the young guns for the Lakers were ready to cave knowing that they would be without “The King” for the rest of the contest. With James down, going into the final period, the Lakers needed someone to calm the troops and lead them out of Oracle with a win. Rajon Rondo answered that call.
Rondo had an amazing fourth quarter for the Lakers and finished the game with a double-double (15 points and 10 assists). He and Zubac, who finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, carried the Lakers in the fourth. They were both great in the pick-and-roll, Rondo hit key baskets for Los Angeles to extend the lead and Zubac continued to clean the glass with rebound after rebound.
The leadership that Rondo showed for Los Angeles was just what the doctor ordered as Golden State was completely blindsided by what turned out to be a 26-point blowout by the Lakers in Oracle. However, this is going to be a different Lakers team assuming that James will miss additional games with the injury.
With the win, the Lakers snapped an 11-game losing streak in Oracle and will be heading to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Dec. 27. On the opposing end, the Warriors will look to get back to their winning ways as they’ll host the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 27.