Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 115-89 loss Friday to the Golden State Warriors at Mercedes-Benz Arena: in Shanghai:
1. The Lakers lost the game in the second half. If you didn’t wake up in time to watch the Lakers, don’t fret too much. The Lakers hardly displayed good basketball when the Warriors broke the game open in the second half by outscoring them 63-35. This happened mainly because Golden State kept its starters while the Lakers played their reserves late in the game for the second consecutive game.
2. The Lakers suffered too many defensive lapses. In what could become a season-wide struggle, the Lakers simply don’t have the speed and athleticism to stop younger teams, such as the Golden State Warriors. But the Lakers could’ve avoided allowing as many as 31 fast-break points had they improved on a few areas. The Lakers’ 21 turnovers reflected their tendency to force passes in traffic, leaving them exposed in the open court. Golden State shot 15 of 26 from 3-point range because they didn’t close out fast enough on the perimeter, an inexcusable weakness given the team’s length and athleticism on the wing. The Lakers also rarely followed the coaching staff’s instruction for most of the team to sprint back on defense following a shot attempt.
3. The Lakers went small. In perhaps his last game in which Mike D’Antoni will play a deep rotation, he fielded a different starting lineup. That included Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol. Such a combination helped the team’s floor spacing. But the Lakers didn’t capitalize, going only 6 of 24 from 3-point range. Gasol (16 points on 5 of 19 shooting and seven rebounds) and Chris Kaman (8 points on 3 of 6 shooting and six rebounds) still played solidly, but their effectiveness still dropped since they couldn’t feed off of each other as much.
4. Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson returned to the lineup. This marked the most positive sign of the game after stayed out of the lineup to heal their respective right calf and left foot injuries to play. Farmar, who hadn’t played since the Lakers’ preseason opener, posted nine points on 4 of 9 shooting, four assists, four steals and four turnovers. All in all, he provided good energy, though it took some time for him to shed the rust stemmed from staying on the sideline for the past two weeks. Johnson, who missed the past three preseason games, posted five points on 1 of 2 shooting and five rebounds in 14 minutes. He didn’t play offensively aggressively or defend the perimeter as well as he should have. But he hustled on the glass.
5. Steve Nash sat out the second half. For the sake of resting his 39-year-old body, Nash stayed pretty limited by playing only 15 minutes. He played fewer when he missed the Lakers’ preseason opener and appeared in only eight minutes of the team’s loss last week to the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas after feeling soreness in his left ankle. But Nash’s reduced playing time likely coincided with Farmar’s return and offsetting the fatigue from a week-long trip to China. It’s hard to take away much from Nash’s four-point performance on 2 of 6 shooting and three assists. But once D’Antoni tightens his rotations, Nash and his teammates will need to make a collective effort in creating more shooting opportunities for him.
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