The Los Angeles Lakers’ tour of NBA title contenders continues on Friday, when they visit the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Lakers lost at the Cleveland Cavaliers and home against the Warriors before finally knocking off a contender with a 122-116 win at the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
Los Angeles’ young squad is hanging around with good teams and finally broke through while snapping Houston’s 14-game winning streak. “Our guys haven’t lost faith or work ethic in what we’re doing,” Lakers coach Luke Walton, who won a championship as an assistant with Golden State, told reporters, “even though we’ve been losing games.” Los Angeles has a chance to end another long winning streak after the Warriors extended their current streak to a 10 straight with a 97-84 triumph over Memphis on Wednesday - becoming the fourth team in NBA history to record a winning streak of at least 10 games in five consecutive seasons. “It just says we’ve had lots of talent and it’s a good time to be a Warriors fan obviously, or a Warriors coach,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “This team has been growing and growing over the last six, seven years and these last five have been really special seasons.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet Los Angeles, NBCS Bay Area (Golden State)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (11-18): Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma was the star of Wednesday’s win while scoring a season-high 38 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range. “I’ve got the same mentality every time I step on the court,” Kuzma told reporters. “Play my hardest and just be locked in.” The Utah product is averaging 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds and scored at least 20 points in each of the last three games, including 25 on 10-of-16 shooting in Monday’s loss to Golden State.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (25-6): Golden State spent the better part of the last two weeks playing shorthanded and was without three starters and five rotation players against Memphis on Wednesday. As usual, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant combined to pick up the slack with a total of 51 points in the win after putting up a combined 53 in the 116-114 overtime triumph at Los Angeles on Monday, but Kerr was still seeing room for improvement. “We have to get better for sure,” Kerr told reporters. “This was not a good performance, but I’m happy with the win, and I’m happy with the way guys are competing.”
1. Warriors F Draymond Green (shoulder) is expected to return on Friday or Saturday.
2. Lakers C Brook Lopez (ankle) was hurt in Monday’s meeting and will miss the next three weeks.
3. Both of the previous meetings this season went to overtime, with Golden State winning each to extend its winning streak in the series to five.
PREDICTION: Warriors 109, Lakers 102