Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors (22-39) hosted the Los Angeles Lakers (40-23) last night at Oracle Arena in what had the potential to be an exciting back and forth game between a contender and team tanking to improve its odds of getting a high lottery draft pick. The game started with the Lakers going inside and abusing the Dubs for most of the first quarter, but the Warriors managed to still make a game of it despite facing a double-digit deficit early in the game.

By halftime, Golden State managed to only be down by eight points, despite the fact that the Lakers were essentially destroying them on the interior thanks in large part to Andrew Bynum’s 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field in the first two quarters.

The Dubs used their zone defense in the second quarter to limit the damage on the interior, but truth be told; it happened to coincide with the time that Bynum spent on the bench. Indeed, the Lakers’ starting center spent more than half of the second period on the pine, consequently it was easier for the Dubs to go to their gimmick defense with smaller defenders when they only truly had to worry about keeping Gasol off the offensive glass.

Mark Jackson’s unit played with more energy and competed a little harder in the second quarter as the bench players produced 22 points in the first half. They used their defense to force a few misses and create some turnovers, which allowed them to get out on the break and score. Indeed, the fast break points were important given that Golden State had trouble scoring in the half court. The Lakers kept the Dubs out on the perimeter and forced them to take contested midrange jumpers off the dribble; and whenever they did manage to get into the paint, they had a seven-footer waiting for them at the rim to change their shots.

The third quarter was a different story, as the Purple and Gold came out with the same urgency and energy that was visibly apparent at the start of the game. They picked apart the Warriors’ zone with their cutting, ball movement and physical play on the block.

Golden State tried to match wits by alternating at times between man-to-man and zone defense, but the players were often left confused with respect to their assignments. For instance, when the ball went inside and Golden State dropped down to double team, the Lakers would pass out and then once again feed the post and then have the perimeter passer cut to the basket. Because the defender was concerned with providing some help on the big man inside, he would lose his man and watch him score at the rim off a feed from the post.

When the Warriors adjusted their double teams, the Lakers still found ways to make them pay by having a player away from the action — particularly on the weak side of the court — cut to the rim for an easy pass and score. In a nutshell, that’s how Pau Gasol ramped up an impressive 11 assists.

As previously mentioned, Golden State struggled shooting the ball but there were still some positives.

Klay Thompson has essentially become the team’s go-to guy but on this night his jumper betrayed him, as he converted 7-of-22 field goal attempts on his way to 17 points. Although he didn’t always hit the mark, watching him get open time and time again was certainly interesting. The rookie understood how to rub his defender off screens, what spot to get to depending on the defenders adjustments to screens and how to beat his defender when he finally caught the ball.

Thompson put the ball on the floor a few times and got himself to the rim against the likes of Metta World Peace — a very well respected and physical defender — or simply used a quick jab step to free himself for a solid midrange jump shot.

At one point, Andrew Bynum came out to defend him on a switch and it looked as though he would settle for a long-range shot, but he instead drove past the big man and got into the lane and drew a foul.

With that said, Golden State had little chance to be victorious in this game if they weren’t hitting from the outside given all of the perimeter players that they used on the court at the same time. The Dubs shot 4-for-19 from 3-point range and manufactured a mere 10 free throw attempts.

Ball game.

The final score may indicate a 12-point loss, but in actuality the bench players made the score respectable. The Warriors are looking at what they have in order to see which players will be on the roster next season; it may be a learning experience for both players, coaches and management, but let’s hope that the Dubs close out the season strong.

It’s all the fans have left until November…

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].

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