‘They controlled it’: How the Lakers dominated Warriors in Game 3 win

Lakers guard Dennis Schroder gets a layup against the Warriors on a fastbreak.
Lakers guard Dennis Schroder scores on a layup during a fastbreak against the Warriors in Game 3 of their playoff series Saturday at Arena.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

In the moment, it was the most mundane of plays.

In hindsight, it signaled the shift of momentum that was called the tipping point of Game 3 in this second-round NBA playoff series.

Fouled by Golden State’s Stephen Curry midway through the second quarter with the Lakers trailing by five, LeBron James shot the Lakers’ first free throws of the quarter.

They would not be their last.

Over the last 6 minutes 32 seconds before halftime, the Lakers took 15 free throws and made 11, the Warriors produced more technical fouls (three) than free throws (one), and the Lakers’ 11-point deficit with 7:35 remaining in the quarter became an 11-point halftime lead.


Saturday’s 127-97 win leaves the Lakers leading the best-of-seven series 2-1 entering Monday’s fourth game, at Arena.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis starred as the host Lakers blew out Golden State 127-97 on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in the second-round series.

May 6, 2023

“We understand the things we have to do in terms of keeping them off the free-throw line, whether it’s calls that we agree with or not, which most we didn’t tonight,” said Curry, whose 23 points were a team high. “But that’s not the sole reason we lost.

“It’s just a mindfulness on how we’re trying to create good looks, being tough and physical on the defensive end of the floor without fouling to keep the pace where we want it to, and connect the game. It’s pretty simple. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

The Warriors have not lost a postseason series to a Western Conference opponent since 2015, and have won a road game in an NBA-record 28 consecutive playoff series, because in addition to possessing two of the NBA’s greatest shooters, they have been among the great problem-solvers — always ready with a bucket and an answer.

They left on Saturday night looking for more after first losing their poise, then their opportunity to hold the series edge.

“We had control of the game, we were in pretty good shape. And that’s when we lost our poise,” coach Steve Kerr said.


Draymond Green, the Warriors forward known for his in-depth answers that can resemble treatises more than mere quotes, was succinct in his analysis.

“The game stopped,” Green said. “They go to the free-throw line every time.”

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and their Lakers teammates were about focus and resiliency in routing Golden State in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.

May 6, 2023

The Lakers finished 28 for 37 from the line. The Warriors finished 12 for 17. Producing easy opportunities to score is nothing new for the Lakers, who led the NBA in free-throw differential during the season, but in the postseason it has been a necessity. During this series’ first two games, they had produced the lowest effective field goal percentage among the eight teams playing in the conference semifinals.

Three games into the series, free throws have accounted for 18.3% of the Lakers’ points, and among the conference semifinalists, only Miami has generated a larger share of its points from the line. In stark contrast are the Warriors, for whom free throws have accounted for only 8% of their points.

Asked what it was like to see the fouls continue to pile up, Green responded in a muted, “It’s frustrating.”

It wasn’t just the free throws, as Curry suggested. Lakers coach Darvin Ham shifted the Lakers’ defensive assignments, putting Jarred Vanderbilt on Green to allow the Lakers to switch him onto Curry when Green would screen in pick-and-roll plays, and assigning Anthony Davis to an ineffective JaMychal Green. Four of Draymond Green’s five fouls were drawn by Davis, with several on block-charge calls.

“I’m going to keep playing the same defense I’ve played for 11 years,” Green said.

The Warriors committed 19 turnovers, with Klay Thompson responsible for six, which he called “inexcusable.”


Pictures: The Lakers and Anthony Davis retake control of the NBA Western Conference semifinal series Saturday by routing the Warriors in Game 3.

May 6, 2023

Added Thompson: “We got punked tonight.”

“Those 19 turnovers turned into 27 points, they shot 20 more free throws than we did so put all those numbers together and this was a Laker game, you know, dominating from the foul line and getting out in transition based on us not having good offensive possessions,” Kerr said. “So they controlled it.”

Thompson scored 15 points in his first road playoff game against the Lakers. Before the series shifted from the Bay Area to Los Angeles it was Thompson, who went to high school in Southern California, who described how much playing a playoff game there would mean for him.

“I’ll enjoy it even more Monday,” he said, “because I’m looking forward to a bounce-back performance for myself and our team.”