Warriors overtake Lakers in fourth quarter
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors regained the top spot in the Western Conference on Friday night.
But as they saw for the third straight time against the Los Angeles Lakers, the gap between Nos. 1 and 11 isn’t all that big.
Pushed to overtime to beat their California rival in two earlier meetings, the Warriors rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to make it three hard-fought wins in a row over the Lakers, 113-106.
“That’s a good young team over there,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr gushed of the Lakers (11-19), who currently reside 14 games behind Golden State (26-6) in the Pacific Division and four games out of the final playoff spot in the West. “They really took it to us in the second half. Turned into a real good game.”
The Warriors’ 11th straight win, coupled with Houston’s home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, pushed Golden State a half-game ahead of the Rockets (25-6) for the top seed in the West.
After the Lakers battled back from a 23-point deficit to take an 89-88 lead on a 3-pointer by Julius Randle with 7:43 to play, Nick Young gave Golden State the lead for good with a three-point play 17 seconds later.
The Warriors scored six straight points to build a lead, then added six in a row four minutes later to go up 105-97 before holding on for their 10th straight win over the Lakers in Oakland.
“I love our group of guys,” Lakers coach Luke Walton gushed. “The way they compete night in and night out against some really good teams I think is really impressive. We gave ourselves a chance to win. I’m very happy with them.”
Kevin Durant had a game-high 33 points (12 on free throws) to lead the Warriors, who were playing for the second time on a seven-game homestand.
Rookie Jordan Bell (20 points and 10 rebounds) and Draymond Green (13 points and 11 rebounds), returning from a four-game absence, complemented Durant with double-doubles for the Warriors, who won despite going just 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) from 3-point range.
“I don’t think we win that game without Andre (Iguodala) and Draymond,” insisted Kerr. Iguodala missed Wednesday’s win over Memphis with an illness.
“It’s great to have Draymond back,” Kerr continued. “He brings an energy to the game that was lacking last game.”
Rookies Kyle Kuzma (27 points and game-high 14 rebounds) and Lonzo Ball (24 points) paced the Lakers, who were coming off a win at Houston on Wednesday.
Kuzma had a career-high 38 points in the Houston win. He’s now scored 25 or more in three straight games, joining Lakers legends Elgin Baylor and Jerry West as the only three rookies ever to record such a three-peat.
“We’re really impressed with the way he is playing and even more so with the composure he has kept in these last couple of games,” Walton said of Kuzma. “At times in each game, he puts us on his back and the rest of the team starts to get confidence again. He did that at times tonight.”
Ball connected on five 3-pointers for the Lakers, who made 11 of 29 (37.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
Los Angeles began the day as the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team in the league (32.8 percent), while the Warriors were the best (39.8). Yet the Lakers outscored Golden State 33-21 from beyond the arc.
Randle added 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who had won three of their previous five road games.
The Lakers began their comeback in the third quarter after falling as far back as 71-48 in the fourth minute of the period.
Kuzma had 12 of his 27 points in the quarter, which ended with Golden State still retaining a double-digit lead at 84-72.
The Warriors overcame 4-of-4 3-point shooting by Ball to take a 61-44 halftime lead.
Golden State led just 41-36 at the midpoint of the second quarter before limiting Los Angeles to 3-of-11 shooting the rest of the half.
Los Angeles had more turnovers (four) than field goals (three) during Golden State’s 20-8 half-closing run.
NOTES: With the return of PF Draymond Green, the Warriors used their eighth different starting lineup in their last nine games. ... Warriors coach Steve Kerr announced before the game that injured PG Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) has a “99.999 percent” chance of not playing in Monday’s showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers. ... Both teams will complete a back-to-back Saturday night at home against an opponent that also played Friday. In fact, Denver (which visits Golden State) and Portland (which travels to Los Angeles) played each other Friday in Portland.