Three takeaways from Lakers surprising Christmas D
The Lakersbeating the Warriors without LeBron James? That just might qualify as a Christmas miracle.James left Tuesday night's game early in the third quarter and didn't return for the final 20 minutes of action. When James walked toward the locker room, the Lakersheld a 71-57 lead, but the Warriors cut the deficit down to two points with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter.MORE: Despite the increased pre sure, Los Angeles didn't fall apart. If anything, the Lakersturned up the intensity, outscoring the Warriors Cam Sample Jersey
36-19 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 127-101 blowout win.So this means the Lakersare heading to the Finals, right? Well, no we can't go too crazy over this. However, given that it was a national TV game and the first matchup of the season between these two teams, there are a few takeaways from LA's victory.Lakers rockin' around without LeBronThe key postgame quote came from Lakersguard Josh Hart."The narrative is that it's LeBron and the Lakers. Obviously we hope he's okay, but we've got a lot of good players," ."If he's down, we're ready to step up. None of us are scared of the spotlight."If James is out for an extended stretch, that's obviously a huge lo s for the Lakers. But avoiding a sudden collapse against the defending champs must give the supporting cast a confidence boost.MORE: Kyle Kuzmascored a team-high 19 points, and starting forward Brandon Ingram chipped in 14 points of his own. Rajon Rondo filled the playmakervoid with James out, totaling 15 points, Khalid Kareem Jersey
10 a sists and five rebounds in 23 minutes.The biggest surprise was Ivica Zubac, who posted an efficient double-double (18 points on 9-of-10 shooting, 11 rebounds) and finished a game-high plus-25. He has been terrific in three recent starts, averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game on 78.1 percent shooting from the field.Los Angeles isn't a true title contender just yet, and Lakerspresident of basketball operations Magic Johnson shouldn't suddenly expect them to finish as the top seed in the Western Conference. This is a solid road win, though, and one that could marka turning point in theseason. The go into Oracle Arena and top GSW behind (15 PTS, 10 AST), and (18 PTS, 11 REB, 9-10 FGM)! NBA (@NBA) Stephen Curry's not-so-merryChristmasIf you want to stop the two-time MVP, there's a very simple game plan. Just play against Curry on Christmas Day.In Golden State's lo s, Curry scored only 15 points (5-of-17 from the field, 2-of-8 from 3-point range) and had the same number of a sists Trey Hopkins Jersey
as personal fouls (five). Curry has never scored 20 points on Christmas in his career, , continuing a bizarre holiday trend.Christmas DayPointsFG-FGA3PT FG-3PT FGAWin or Lo s?201042-150-5Win201142-120-4Lo s2013155-172-6Win2014145-121-5Lo s2015196-151-4Win2016154-112-7Lo s2018155-172-8Lo sAverages12.329.2%20.5%3-4MORE: This doesn't take away from Curry's greatne s in any way, but it remains... weird."We were looking forward to this opportunity to get out there and play a lot better Ja'Marr Chase Jersey
and just laid an egg, so you can feel terrible about it leaving the arena," Curry said."You got to understand it's December we're in a decent spot."We got to get better, though. We're not going to win a championship playing like we did tonight."Draymond Green iscoldoutsideThis is an emerging i sue that goes beyond one game. Green's poor shooting could become a problem down the road for Golden State's offense.Opposing defenses are treating Green like Ben Simmons. The Lakersgave Green an open invitation to shoot as many 3-pointers as he wanted.If even a league average shooter catches this pa s, a defender is running toward the arc.MORE: During the 2015-16 season, Green shot a career-high 49.0 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from deep. Since Kevin Durant joined the team in the summer of 2016, Green has dropped to 43.3 and 29.8 in those categories.He will never be the team's leading scorer, but Green can't just refuse to look at the basket. The offense keeps stalling each time Green holds the ball and avoids open attempts. Durant is noticing the difference.Kevin Durant praised Lakers' plan to Fred Johnson Jersey
double him Stephen Curry said teams "aren't really guarding GSW bigs at the rim" are "leaving" Green, Iguodala Livingston at 3-point line. "We got to do a better job of kicking out getting the offense rolling through that respect." Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) The Warriors' offensive rating only improves slightly , and their defensive rating is significantly better with him on the floor. Green isn't suddenly a negative impact player overall, but he's not playing with his usual confidence.There's just something that isn't quite right here, and that's at least worth monitoring as the Warriors chase a three-peat.