The Golden State Warriors get plenty of credit for their high-scoring offense, but their defense is just as important to their standing as the defending NBA champions. The Warriors hope to get at least one key piece back in the lineup and tighten some things on the defensive end when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Golden State was without Kevin Durant (ankle) and Stephen Curry (hand) on Monday and allowed the Sacramento Kings to shoot 53.2 percent from the floor in a 110-106 setback. “Overall, our defensive effort wasn’t there tonight,” head coach Steve Kerr, who directs a Warriors defense that leads the NBA in opponent’s field-goal percentage (.431), told reporters. “We didn’t have the juice we needed to stop them.” Golden State is beginning a six-game road trip at Los Angeles, which is dealing with its own defensive issues after allowing the Kings and the Clippers to average 116.5 points in back-to-back losses and knows it needs to get things fixed quickly with the Warriors coming to town. “We’ve got to be ready to play or we’re going to get blown out,” Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball told reporters.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, NBCSN Bay Area (Golden State), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (15-6): Curry is expected to be back for the start of the road trip while Durant remains day-to-day, and Golden State looked like it could use one of its MVPs down the stretch on Monday. The Warriors did not make a field goal in the final three minutes and watched the offense stagnate around Klay Thompson, who went 7-of-20 from the floor and missed his final four shots. Curry suffered the bruised hand while putting up 27 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday and is averaging 31.6 points over his last five games.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (8-12): Los Angeles got one of its more athletic frontcourt defenders back on Monday, when power forward Larry Nance Jr. returned from a broken hand and added four steals and a block to his nine points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Nance’s return pushed rookie Kyle Kuzma back into a reserve role, but Kuzma still managed to go 5-of-7 from the floor and score 15 points in 20 minutes. Ball was not quite as sharp, going 1-of-7 from the floor, and is shooting just 30.9 percent from the field on the season, including 24.5 percent from 3-point range.
1. Warriors SF Andre Iguodala scored in double figures in each of the last three games — his longest such streak of the season.
2. Lakers SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 29 points on Monday and scored at least 20 in three straight contests.
3. Golden State took the last three in the series by an average of 27.3 points.
PREDICTION: Warriors 121, Lakers 102