Thursday, April 7, 2011

Not Yet Ultimate, They Are Still Warriors

Fighting hard for playoff positioning, the Lakers exploded after the All-Star game, winning 17 of 18. Starting Sunday, though, Los Angeles dropped three straight games to teams of decreasing caliber: first Denver, then Utah, then Golden State.

In last night's game against the Warriors, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol shot a combined 17-for-31, putting 43 points on the scoreboard. L.A. earned 27 free-throw attempts and rebounded the ball 47 times. Meanwhile, Golden State shot 39% from the field.... and the Warriors somehow won the game by 8 points. How did they do this? Golden State rebounded the ball 50 times, including 18 offensive caroms, enabling them to launch 93 shots. (Lakers' opponents generally average 12 offensive boards per game.)

Golden State is so offensively prolific that an average defensive effort, plus a decent mess of ORB, can help them win a lot of games. (One night earlier, the Warriors thumped playoff-bound Portland by 21 points.) If rookie PF/C Ekpe Udoh becomes a reliable man in the painted area, Golden State can at least make the playoffs with its current roster. A defensively aware head coach could do very good things with the Warriors squad.

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