Lakers’ 2014 draft pick
The Lakers (9-19) upset the Golden State Warriors (23-4), despite playing without Kobe Bryant. Here are five takeaways from their 115-105 victory on Tuesday at Staples Center.
1. Are the Lakers better without Kobe Bryant? One game doesn’t answer that question, but in a sample size of one, the Lakers played arguably their best team game of the year. Seven players hit double figures, led by Carlos Boozer’s 18, and the Warriors seemed overwhelmed by the Lakers’ defensive energy.
Bryant is one of the more unique players in NBA history. If the team can find a way to mesh his individual gifts as a scorer, with the passionate team play they put on display Tuesday, perhaps they’ll be able to finish out the season respectably -- although that balance has been elusive to date.
2. Ed Davis hit all seven of his shots from the field. Boozer missed just three of 11 attempts. The Lakers shot 51.7% from the field as a team against a Warriors squad that outscores opponents by a league-best 9.5 points a night.
3. Perhaps the Lakers should re-sign Vlade Divac (now 46 years old). The center won $90,000 to share evenly with the Divac Children’s Foundation and Lakers Youth Foundation, after sinking a half-court shot between the third and fourth quarters. (Did Robert Horry call it a “lucky shot” on the television broadcast?)
4. The Lakers survived Stephen Curry, who scored 22 points on an effortless 10 of 14 shooting. Defensively, the Lakers couldn’t get him to miss but they did force him into a game-high seven turnovers. The Warriors had 20 as a team, many caused by Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price, with three steals apiece.
5. The team used its fourth different starting lineup in their 28th game. Last season, Coach Mike D’Antoni juggled 35 different starting groups, primarily reacting to injuries. The Lakers have been down Steve Nash, Julius Randle, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly for most of the season -- a difficulty but more of a consistent one than last year’s struggle for the entire team to stay healthy. Ellington has now started 36 games through his career, but just one with the Lakers.