The Los Angeles Lakers enter the ORACLE Arena in Oakland Monday night to take on the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have lost both meetings with the Lakers this season, and the last time the Lakers were in Oakland, Steve Nash’s memorable overtime comeback provided the Lakers with an important road victory.
This time, the Lakers arrive in Oakland 3.5 games behind the Warriors in the standings with two head-to-head games remaining. If the Lakers sweep the Warriors, they will exponentially increase their chances of finishing better than eighth, and even the sixth seed is a possibility.
Before looking too far ahead, the Lakers need to re-orientate and break a two-game losing streak. More troubling than the timing of the losing streak was the manner in which the Lakers’ overall play dropped off.
In Phoenix, the Lakers looked tired with a shortened rotation and an injury-ravaged lineup. Against Washington, the Lakers blew an 18-point lead and lost at home with a deep team and not enough time to go around.
After two losses to lottery teams, the Lakers desperately need to get back on track on Monday night.
The Warriors are not a lottery team. They have won five of their last seven games, and Stephen Curry has been the main catalyst. Curry averaged 30 points and seven assists in the Warriors’ last five wins. Curry has also shot 58.5 percent from the field in those same five wins.
In the Warriors’ two recent losses, Curry shot below 50 percent both times. The key to stopping the Warriors is slowing down Curry.
When the Lakers beat the Warriors in November, Curry shot a dismal 6-16 and only recorded 18 points to go along with a modest five assists. When the Lakers won in December, Curry had 20 points on 8-23 shooting to go along with seven assists and eight rebounds.
Just as the Lakers returned Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant to the lineup, Antawn Jamison sprained his wrist. The 36-year-old forward underwent an MRI on Saturday and took part in a non-contact practice on Sunday.
At Sunday’s practice, Jamison said he would play through the pain and felt the injured wrist noticeably improving day by day. With Gasol and Bryant returning to fitness and Jamison playing through pain, the Lakers dress a full roster (minus Jordan Hill) on Monday night at Golden State.