On Tuesday, the Lakers (2-11) have the opportunity to scuttle the Golden State Warriors’ quest to set the NBA’s record for the best start in league history at 16-0.
Interim head coach Luke Walton, subbing for Steve Kerr, who is out with a back injury, has helped his team start out the season with 15 straight wins. The Lakers, meanwhile, have managed just two wins and are currently at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Other than rookie forward Kevon Looney of UCLA, who is likely out for the year with a hip injury, the Warriors are healthy.
The Lakers should have a full roster, but any outcome other than a loss would be a major upset.
Stephen Curry won the NBA’s most valuable player award last season, while averaging 23.8 points and 7.7 assists a game, shooting 48.7% from the field and making 3.6 three-pointers a night.
This season he’s up to 32.7 points on 51.4% shooting, making 4.9 three-pointers. His assists have dipped to 5.7, but even on a talented, deep roster, Curry shooting the ball is usually a basket for the Warriors.
No team in the league has really figured out how to deal with Curry and the Golden State juggernaut. Jordan Clarkson or rookie D’Angelo Russell is likely to get the first try for the Lakers individually against Curry.
While both of the Lakers’ young, upcoming guards are showing what they will become together as a tandem offensively, defensively they have a long, long way to go.
Even if the Lakers send two defenders at Curry, the Warriors still have Klay Thompson in the backcourt.
Lakers forward Julius Randle impressed in a summer league game between the two teams, taking it right to Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Green is one of the NBA’s best defenders in the post. He’s also a versatile playmaker, averaging 6.7 assists a night, along with 12.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.
Common to young players, Randle looks dominant in stretches, but not consistently. Through 13 games, Randle is averaging 11.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, but shooting just 42.4% from the field.
The Lakers need to play their best game of the year, and even that may not be enough against Curry, Green and Thompson -- along with Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Shaun Livingston and the NBA Finals most valuable player, Andre Iguodala.
Unless Kobe Bryant manages a throwback game of epic proportions, and maybe even if he does, the Lakers are probably overmatched by Golden State.
The Warriors are a machine this season. The Lakers have not figured out yet how to close out games.
Look for Golden State to make history on Tuesday night.
MORE ON LAKERS