Preview: Lakers at Golden State Warriors
The Lakers (13-13) can leapfrog the ninth-place Golden State Warriors (14-13) with a win on Saturday night in Oakland.
To do so, they’ll need to win a road game on the second night of back-to-back games despite playing without Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Steve Nash (back).
The Lakers have already split a pair against the Warriors. Their last visit to Golden State was also on the second night of back-to-back games early in the season, with the Warriors dominating in a 125-94 win.
Golden State has struggled recently after losing forward Andre Iguodala to a hamstring injury he sustained during a loss Nov. 22 against the Lakers at Staples Center.
Iguodala returned to play on Dec. 17 in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans but the Warriors lost two days later at home to the San Antonio Spurs despite Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sitting out.
The Lakers and Warriors have vulnerabilities but Golden State should have the advantage Saturday, given the Lakers played on Friday.
Stephen Curry is one of the league’s most explosive playmakers at the point, averaging 24.5 points and 9.3 assists a game. His quick, accurate jump shot is difficult to defend.
Curry is shooting 46.3% from the field and 41.3% from the three-point range. If he has a flaw, Curry turns the ball over 4.2 times a game.
The only healthy point guard the Lakers have on the roster is Kendall Marshall, who signed with the club on Friday. He didn’t play that night in the Lakers’ 104-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Instead, forward Xavier Henry played almost 42 minutes at the point, finishing with 21 points, four assists and three turnovers.
Curry will be quite the challenge for Henry on Saturday.
Through 26 games, Nick Young is the Lakers’ leading scorer at 15.3 points a game.
His carefree, even silly energy seems to energize the Lakers. He’s shooting a career-best 44.5% from the field as well as a solid 39.6% from three-point range.
Given the Lakers are playing without a true point guard, Young’s individual creativity can help salvage broken possessions.
The Warriors have a number of players that pose problems for the Lakers, including swingman Klay Thompson and power forward David Lee.
Big men Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green along with Iguodala are strong defenders.
The Warriors have lost three of their last four.
The Lakers are decimated at the point but their win against the Wolves show they’re not ready to pack in the season while waiting for Bryant to return.
On back-to-back nights, the Lakers will be hard-pressed to steal a win against Golden State in Oakland.
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