For the first time in over 20 years, the Golden State Warriors swept the Los Angeles Lakers when the purple and gold fell, 117-106, at ORACLE Arena in Oakland on Wednesday night.
Both teams came into the night severely hobbled and trying out unfamiliar lineups. The Lakers were without the services of Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Channing Frye. Meanwhile, the Warriors did not have Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson or David West available.
So, Kevin Durant expected to carry a heavier load than usual for the home team. While the former MVP led all scorers with 26 points on 10/19 shooting, along with six assists and five rebounds, Durant didn't have an especially dominating night.
Instead, the Warriors managed to get positive contributions across the board and finished with seven different players scoring in double figures, including all five starters. Former Laker Nick Young scored 18 points on the night, while Zaza Pachulia exemplified the Warriors' balance with 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists on the night.
The Lakers, meanwhile, relied on a three-headed monster to do the bulk of their damage. Isaiah Thomas earned his first start since joining the Lakers, and the point guard finished the night with 20 points and seven assists. Brook Lopez added 20 points, six rebounds and five blocks from the center position, while Julius Randle continued his strong play with a team-high 22 points on 8/10 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Lonzo Ball continued his shooting struggles and missed seven of eight three-point attempts on the night, which means the 20-year-old has only made four of his last 29 three-point attempts over a shooting slump that has extended to its fourth game.
Ball, though, continues to contribute all over the court and fill up the box score. On Wednesday night, the rookie finished the night with 11 assists, eight rebounds, eight points, two steals, a block and a memorable halftime buzzer beater.
Despite only getting two points from their bench during the first half, the Lakers miraculously entered the locker room level at 55-55 after Ball's tip-in.
Unfortunately for LA, the third quarter started with the Warriors going on a 15-4 run out of the gates. By the midway point in the quarter, LA trailed by a dozen points, and the game looked like it may get out of hand when Walton was forced to turn to his bench.
The Lakers' coach opted to insert Tyler Ennis into the rotation for the second half, and the move helped the second unit be more productive and stay in the game. Ennis finished the night as the only player off LA's bench to hit double figures with 12 points on 5/6 shooting from the field.
After three quarter, the Lakers trailed by seven points, and the idea of stealing a road game against the deformed Warriors didn't seem entirely crazy. Only, the Lakers didn't exactly look like themselves either, and the heavy minutes on back-to-back nights seemed to catch up with the short-handed Lakers.
After the Lakers drew within six points early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors expanded their advantage to double digits two minutes into the final quarter. From that point forward, the Lakers never got closer than eight points, while the Warriors led by as many as 15 points until the clock ran out with the home team leading 117-106.
Randle and Thomas Argue on Sidelines
Perhaps, the most meaningful moment of the game came during a timeout, when Thomas and Randle got into an argument and had to be separated by teammates.
(1/2) Julius Randle on bustup with Isaiah Thomas: "It's great. Honestly. We expect a lot out of each other. It's just communicating. We expect a lot out of each other. We want to win. We expect to win these games." pic.twitter.com/aDw0jarRAr— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) March 15, 2018
"It's great, honestly," Randle explained the incident with Thomas to reporters in Oakland after the game. "We expect a lot out of each other. It's just communicating. We expect a lot out of each other. We want to win. We expect to win these games. We expect each other to play at certain levels, so it's just us being teammates. There's nobody I'd rather go to war with than I.T. (Thomas), so it's nothing personal. We're just trying to get the best out of each other and win the game."
Randle added, "It's great that we can come into games and really expect to win these games. We expect a lot out of each other. That hasn't always been the case in the past."
When asked about the incident after the game, Thomas explained the incident to reporters in Oakland as, "Just two basketball players competing. That's all it was--yelling."
After being told that his coach liked the incident, Thomas replied, "He should. We want the best for each other. We just want to win, and we're two of the leaders on a team that were competing. And it was a misunderstanding at one point. And then, we talked about it, and we're good--as teammates should."
Thomas concluded, "I'm a leader. It's not me getting after anybody. It's just me leading. If I see something, I'm going to say something. And that goes vice versa. If they see something, they should say something. That's just how it's supposed to be on basketball teams."
Quotes via Spectrum SportsNet