The Los Angeles Lakers are facing an uphill battle against a red-hot Golden State Warriors team that has set a new league record for most 3-pointers hit in the first two games of a playoff round, with an impressive 42 treys. Despite the Warriors’ impressive performance, the Lakers are not willing to let their defensive standards slip because of the opponent, according to superstar LeBron James.
James affirmed that the Lakers, who turned their season around after the trade deadline by increasing their defensive intensity, are still one of the best defensive teams in the league. He stated that defense is what the Lakers “hang their hats on” and that their approach will not change, regardless of who they are playing against.
Even with the Warriors’ explosive night, the Lakers still have the second-best defensive rating out of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs, allowing only 106.5 points per 100 possessions, with the New York Knicks being the only team better at 105.9.
However, Thursday’s Game 2 was a major letdown for the Lakers. They led by seven after the first quarter, with James scoring 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting. But then the Warriors mounted an impressive comeback, outscoring the Lakers 84-47 in the second and third quarters, with two 40-point quarters, the first time that has happened in franchise history.
This feat was largely attributed to the best-shooting backcourt ever assembled, with Klay Thompson scoring 30 points through three quarters on 8-for-11 shooting from 3 and Stephen Curry finishing with 20 points and 12 assists.
"The Warriors made a bet in Game 2 that Anthony Davis would get outmuscled and out-toughed and pushed around by a guy 5 inches shorter than him, and they were right.
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 5, 2023
The Lakers had not allowed 40 points in any of the 32 quarters of basketball played during this postseason until Game 2, where it happened in back-to-back quarters. It is now up to the Lakers to regroup and strategize on how to combat the Warriors’ potent offense and regain the defensive momentum that has gotten them this far in the playoffs.
Despite their loss, the Lakers’ confidence in their ability to defend remains unshaken, and they are determined to continue playing the brand of basketball that has gotten them this far in the postseason.
“LeBron James and Lakers Look to Bounce Back in Game 3 Against Warriors”
The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a crushing defeat to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals matchup, prompting speculation about the performance of key players like Anthony Davis and LeBron James. After Davis’s historic 30/23/5 performance in Game 1, he only scored 11 points in Game 2 and was criticized by analysts for not stepping up when the team needed him the most.
“Lakers won’t win this series unless AD is dominant, his imprint must be ingrained in this victory.”@ShannonSharpe makes plea for a dominant Anthony Davis in Game 3 vs. Warriors pic.twitter.com/LllrriRLA4
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 5, 2023
Shannon Sharpe, in particular, emphasized the importance of Davis’s dominant presence in Game 3 if the Lakers hope to win the series against the Warriors. Similarly, Sharpe challenged James to deliver one of his signature 30-point games and to be more efficient in his scoring.
Despite James’s hot start in Game 2, he struggled to maintain his momentum and only scored nine points in the remaining three quarters. Sharpe expressed his frustration with James’s inconsistent performances, stating that Laker Nation needs him to show up and deliver a game that energizes both the team and their fans.
With only Rui Hachimura providing significant support, the Lakers’ supporting cast had a below-average performance in Game 2, with key players like D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder, and Jarred Vanderbilt combining for only 27 points.
The Lakers’ disappointing performance in Game 2 has left fans and analysts wondering if they have what it takes to overcome the Warriors in the remainder of the series. With Davis and James facing mounting pressure to perform at their best, the Lakers may need to rely on their proven track record as one of the best defensive teams in the league and maintain their high defensive standards regardless of the opponent.
As the series heads into Game 3, all eyes will be on the Lakers to see if they can turn things around and regain their position as the team to beat in the Western Conference.