OAKLAND — For a team that supposedly built a tight bond during training camp, the Lakers appeared awfully disjointed in their 125-94 loss Wednesday to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
It came in all shapes and forms.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson bombed a career-high 38 points on 15 of 19 shooting and 5 of 7 from 3-point shooting. Warriors forward David Lee muscled his way inside with 24 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Golden State made the Lakers suddenly look old with 25 fast-break points. And the Warriors exposed weaknesses that plagued the Lakers last season.
“We didn’t really create any energy for ourselves,” Lakers center Pau Gasol said. “There was no communication. On a back–to-back, you have to do that. We didn’t do that. We were stagnant on both ends of the floor and were not active enough. That’s what’s going to happen when we do those things.”
Those instances happened plenty.
The most egregious example, of course, involved Thompson.
He scored so quickly that he went four of four in the first quarter and didn’t even play in the final period. Thompson posted his points so easily that it appeared no one on the Lakers even closed out on him. And though his effort likely made father, Mychal proud as he the former Laker provided color commentary on KSPN-710 AM, those warm fuzzy feelings hardly reached the purple and gold locker room.
“You should be pissed off,” Lakers guard Jordan Farmar said. “You shouldn’t let anybody play like that against you. You have to give him credit. He’s a hell of a player. Next time we see him, we should have a chip on our shoulder and we should have an asterisk by his name.”
Yet, there’s no reason why the Lakers shouldn’t be aware of Thompson. The Lakers already had an asterisk on his name by the whiteboard. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni already described Thompson as “one of the best shooters I’ve seen in a long time.”
Through three exhibition games against the Lakers, Thompson averaged 21.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting and 45.4 percent from three-point range.
“We’re mad we didn’t defend him better,” Lakers forward Nick Young said. “We let him get off early and let his confidence going. There’s no stopping a team that lives for the three-point shot and runs and guns. Once they get going, they’re hard to stop.”
The Lakers anticipated such struggles without Dwight Howard’s shot blocking and Metta World Peace’s pesky one-on-one defense. But even with those two former NBA Defensive Player of the Years, the Lakers struggled on defense. That included finishing 22nd out of 30 NBA teams in total defense (101.05 points per game), 14th in defensive field-goal percentage (45.3 percent), 15th in 3-point field-goal percentage (35.7 percent) and 29th in fastbreak points allowed (16 points per game).
The Lakers often attributed those reasons toward effort and communication, two tenets they vowed they would improve this season.
“Coaches put us in the right situations,” Lakers forward Shawne Williams said. “We have to go out there and play. I have to put a stronger arm on David. We can’t let them have their way in the paint. We have to come out with more energy and swing back.”
The Lakers didn’t, leaving them with an early-season lesson that actions will speak louder than words.
“This tells us we’re not on top of our game defensively,” Gasol said. “We’re going to get beat badly. We just have to be fully energized, focused and locked with every guy on the floor and personnel. We have to be extremely focused with everything. Otherwise, we’re going to struggle.”
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