Christmas is a day for giving. The Warriors embraced that concept, gift-wrapping a 127-101 win to the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night at Oracle.
Golden State (23-12) came out with the all the energy and enthusiasm of someone perusing their last-minute Christmas gift options at the grocery store on the way to Christmas dinner. The Lakers (20-14) were happy to accept.
Stephen Curry picked up two quick fouls and the Warriors racked up five first-half airballs to set the tone for the ugly game from the start.
Steve Kerr was speechless when asked about how his team played after the game:
“I’m trying to think of something really sarcastic and witty to say, but nothing comes to mind right now. They shot 55 percent and scored 127 points on our home floor, so that speaks for itself.”
Curry finished with just 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting — actually raising his averages on Christmas games. He came into the game averaging a mere 11.8 points on 29.2 percent shooting in his six previous Christmas day contests.
Curry was critical of how the team came out:
“It was one of those nights where we get outplayed from the jump. Pretty embarrassing effort. … It’s a tough night, obviously, it’s in front of a National stage, Christmas Day, lot of hype, playing the Lakers. We were looking forward to this opportunity to get out there and play a lot better and just laid an egg.”
Curry’s teammates remarkably fared worse. Klay Thompson had just five points, though he did hit his first 3 in three games so that’s a plus.
Kevin Durant was the only starter to have some semblance of success as he kept the Warriors afloat with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. But he got no help from anyone else in the starting lineup with Kevon Looney getting outplayed by Ivica Zubac and Draymond Green fouling out with just four points in 25 minutes.
Green blamed his own reluctance to attack as the reason the Warriors looked so bad:
“I kind of fucked our whole offense up and it kind of messed the flow of the game up. They was playing that gimmick defense and I was real hesitant to shoot and hesitant to make plays. I just wasn’t aggressive enough and it allowed the gimmicks to work and it kind of threw everyone else out of rhythm.”
Andre Iguodala actually led the team in scoring with 23 points off the bench after hitting his first five shots. He doubled his season average of four points per game before halftime and finished 9-of-12 from the field.
While those are good stats, he was also too shy to pull the trigger on open shots. The Lakers had a plan to leave all non-shooters wide open regardless of how they are playing and they executed it perfectly. The “gimmick defense” that Green talked about.
Iguodala was the only Warrior to shoot the ball well and yet they still sagged 15-feet off of him, and still he would refuse to even look at the rim.
It’s something the Warriors are going to deal with for the rest of the year, but especially in the playoffs and it’s something the role players are going to have to figure out.
Green said it’s not about always shooting, but mainly just making decisive actions:
“Do something right away, now what that is, is to be determined when the play happens. But something right away. I didn’t really do anything right away, so that’s a problem.”
LeBron James had 17 points and 13 boards before making his way to the locker room midway through the third quarter with what appeared to be a left groin strain. But if he didn’t pull a muscle, he probably could have taken the rest of the game off with the way the Warriors were playing.
Predictably that’s when the Warriors made their run to make the score more respectable, but that’s all they could do.
It’s been a rough stretch for the defending champs as they have struggled in this recent stretch of games even with their four All-Stars all healthy.
Kerr said that this is the normal NBA, something the Warriors were basically immune to the last few years:
“What we did a few years ago was the exception, this is the rule. This is how most NBA seasons go if you look at the history of the league. … The bars been set extremely high here by our players in that locker room, so people are expecting maybe that same thing to go on. But the reality is we’re at a different point as an organization and as a team.”
They were beat up by the Utah Jazz and then had an inordinate amount of trouble putting away two scrappy but just moderately talented teams in the Mavs and Clippers.
And it all culminated in an embarrassing loss to a LeBron-less, Lance Stephenson led Lakers team.
The jam-packed holiday schedule continues for the Warriors when the Portland Trail Blazers
The Warriors have failed to shoot better than 40 percent from 3 the last seven games. The last game they broke that mark was 15 days ago against the Minnesota Timberwolves.