On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 117-112 in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals as the defending champions failed to utilize their home-court advantage.
This game is one for the books, as it has been over 30 years since LA and Bay have faced each other in the NBA playoffs. The last time was in 1991, when Magic Johnson and James Worthy held off Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond.
The matchup also marks a new chapter in the long rivalry between all-time scoring leader Lebron James and Stephen Curry, who has the most three-pointers ever, after they faced off in four consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018 while James was playing for Cleveland.
Despite being favored to win at US sportsbooks, Golden State lacked the energy with just one day of rest to keep up with the Lakers’ size and physicality. Neither James nor Curry had a scorching start, and it was Lakers’ Anthony Davis who led the matchup instead.
AD proved that he might be back to his 2020 championship form by recording outstanding stats of 30 points and 23 rebounds — the fifth Laker to achieve this — as well as five assists and four blocks within 19 field goal attempts. He also made nine of his first ten shots.
Thanks to Davis, the Lakers dominated in the paint with 32 points in the first half compared to Golden State’s 12. They also had an impressive 16 of 17 free throws shooting in the first half and finished 25 for 29 overall.
“It’s historic, but we expect that from him. He’s capable of it,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham.
James added 22 points and 11 rebounds, while D’Angelo Russell scored 19 points and recorded six assists playing against his former team.
Warriors guards Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole played well, with Poole delivering his best postseason performance yet, scoring 21 points on 15 shots and six assists. However, Thompson’s offensive performance faltered in the second half, ending the game with 25 points on 9-of-25 shooting.
Thompson, Poole and Curry combined for six three-pointers in the game. After a season, the three players have made over 200 three-pointers each, with Thompson leading the way with 301.
Following a high-scoring first half, the Lakers started to distance themselves in the third quarter as the Warriors relied 40 percent on three-point shots, while Los Angeles dominated the paint and free-throw line. As Thompson’s performance slowed in the third quarter, the Lakers were able to take the lead.
The Warriors were losing 96-88 at the start of the fourth quarter, and the Lakers extended their lead to 14 points by the middle of the quarter.
During the fourth quarter, Curry scored nine consecutive points and led the Warriors with 27 points. These changes worked well, but unfortunately, it was too late for the Warriors to catch up.
“You saw the run we made… We gave it a great fight and just couldn’t get over the hump. But we’ll be ready for Game 2,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Game 2 will take place on May 4 at Chase Center, San Francisco.