Posted on December 19, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Monday night was a special night for fans of the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is playing better this season then it has in recent years. Are they ready to run with the big dogs like Golden State? No—but they are good enough to give the Warriors a run for their money.
Oh, and it also happened to be the same night the franchise was honoring Kobe Bryant by retiring both of his jerseys, No. 24 and 8. On a night when they were honoring one of the greatest players of all time, it would have been great if they could have gotten a win—and they almost did.
The game started off in typical-Golden State fashion with the Warriors getting out to an early 32-24 lead after the first quarter. But the Lakers were not going to be satisfied with just being competitive. They took advantage of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson struggling to hit shots and whittled the deficit down to one, 83-82, entering the final quarter.
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Golden State led by as much as seven in the fourth and had a five-point advantage with 1:08 to play. But a three-pointer by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a layup by Brandon Ingram with 27 seconds left sent the game to OT.
Up to that point, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson had not had good nights. The two combined to miss 31 shots in regulation; Durant as just six for 25. But with the game on the line, the KD fans know and love showed up. He went four for four in overtime and scored 12 points—including a game-winning 22-foot jumper with 7.3 seconds left.
“I’ve had so many bad shooting nights, and I know that it makes just for a better player,” Durant said after the game (ESPN). “I got better tonight. I fought through it, I was able to make some shots down the stretch, and I feel more confident going into my next game shooting the ball.”
The Lakers had a chance to tie the game up and send it to another overtime period. But David West blocked Lonzo Ball’s shot and Brandon Ingram couldn’t get his shot off in time. Golden State wins by two, 116-114.
“The past two years, we’ve got blown out of games (like this),” said Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (ESPN). “Now we’re taking these guys to overtime, and it’s going down to the last shot. That’s a huge step in growth. Now the next step is winning these games.”
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 36 points along with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Klay Thompson finished with 17 points and ten rebounds. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points off the bench followed by Brandon Ingram with 19 points.
The Warriors were without Steph Curry for the fifth straight game due to a sprained ankle. Draymond Green sat out for the fourth time in five games with shoulder soreness. But despite the injuries and cold shooting, the Warriors won their ninth in a row, a streak that started with a 127-123 win over the Lakers in late November.
Golden State will try to make it ten in a row when they face the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night.
The Lakers are showing promise, but they will have an even tougher challenge on hand the next time they take the court (Wednesday night). They will face the Rockets in Houston.