In a monumental upset, the Los Angeles Lakers handed the Golden State Warriors their sixth loss of the season, as the young Lakers beat the defending champions 112-95 at the Staples Center.
The Warriors are in the midst of chasing history, looking to eclipse the 72-10 regular season record set by Michael Jordan’s ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls. However, the Lakers may have provided the Warriors with a speed bump that could derail the quest for the record.
The Lakers’ young backcourt of Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell combined to make seven three-pointers in the win, with Clarkson posting 25 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals and Russell registering 21 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.
The Splash Brothers, on the other hand, were ice cold, with Stephen Curry scoring 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting and Klay Thompson scoring 15 points on 7-of-20 shooting. Combined, the Warriors’ starting backcourt shot 1-of-18 on three-pointers, with the Warriors as a team shooting an uncharacteristic 4-of-30 from deep.
The night featured the worst combined three-point shooting game ever by Curry and Thompson as teammates, and with the whole team simply not able to make shots, the loss of the Warriors to the Lakers marked the biggest upset in the history of the NBA in terms of difference in winning percentage between two teams.
The Lakers were also the first team to have a below .200 winning percentage to beat a team with a winning percentage of over .900.
In addition to the bad shooting percentage of the Warriors and the great nights of Clarkson and Russell, the Lakers outhustled the Warriors with 12 steals and 6 blocks compared to the 5 steals and 3 blocks of the Warriors. The defending champions also had 20 turnovers, which were almost double the 11 turnovers of the Lakers.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who was a member of the ’95-’96 Bulls, provided a fun insight into what went wrong for the Warriors.
“This team is full of millennials, and millennials can’t focus,” Kerr joked. “We looked like the millennials tonight. We weren’t locked in at all. We weren’t focused. Every team is going to have a tough time being locked in for 82 games. It’s hard.”
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, however, pointed out one thing that the Lakers did that should be the basis of any plan to beat the rampaging Warriors, and that is to attack the switches that the Warriors make on offense and to just keep attacking while trapping Curry, preventing him from getting clean looks at the basket.
Of course, teams that would be looking to beat the Warriors should hope for luck to be on their side, as the Warriors are too skilled to shoot only 13 percent on their three-pointers in every game.
One of the teams that will be taking note of this loss by the Warriors are the San Antonio Spurs, who have been lost in discussion due to the chase for history by the Warriors even though they hold a remarkable 53-9 record and are just 2.5 games back from the Warriors for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs will be playing the Warriors three more times in the regular season, with the Spurs looking to bounce back from the 120-90 crushing that they suffered in January.
In any case, the Lakers were able to get a win for the retiring Kobe Bryant, as this would be his last game facing the Warriors. The legendary player scored 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting with 2 rebounds and 3 assists, but did not play in the fourth quarter.