Suddenly reeling Lakers lose 3rd straight
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)
That remarkable start after the All-Star break for the Los Angeles Lakers suddenly seems like a distant memory.
The Lakers looked awful in defeat for the second straight night against an inferior opponent and third game overall. They lost all chance of catching the Spurs for home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson was short on words after the loss but vowed he wouldn't rest his starters over the final four games, even though there's nothing at stake.
''They rested tonight,'' Jackson said.
Kobe Bryant had 25 points and Pau Gasol scored 18 for the Lakers, who also lost at home to short-handed Utah on Tuesday night. Los Angeles, which started 17-1 after the All-Star break, also lost to the Warriors for the first time in 12 games.
''We looked a little heavy, a little sluggish,'' Bryant said. ''We looked a little fatigued. Guys have to really take care of their bodies and get rest when they need to and get re-energized a little bit.''
Stephen Curry added 20 points, six rebounds and five assists to help the Warriors build a 19-point lead in their third straight victory - all against playoff-bound teams. They have beaten Dallas, Portland and Los Angeles in perhaps their best stretch of wins all season.
Bryant brought the Lakers within eight points in a frantic rally in the fourth quarter, but all that did was make the final score seem close. The Warriors trounced Los Angeles for most of the game and relished every second of it afterward.
''They're committed to going against teams that we have no shot against and saying, 'You know what, we have a shot,''' Warriors coach Keith Smart said. ''And that's all we need. As I said to them before the game, we have a free swing tonight. If we go out and play and get blown out by 20, we get blown out. But we have a free swing.''
Instead, the Lakers were the team that missed.
A night after a lazy loss at home to the depleted Jazz, the Lakers might have played even worse in ending any chance of earning the top seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio's victory over Sacramento, combined with the Lakers' loss, gave the Spurs home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs.
The Lakers were in constant confusion and made mistake after mistake - often in glaring fashion - with Bryant shouting at teammates seemingly after every one. Some passes went into the stands, shots weren't falling and there was little hustle.
Not exactly the kind of performances the two-time defending champions wanted in the home stretch of the regular season.
The Warriors, who handed out ''Beat LA!'' posters to every fan, withstood Bryant's burst in the first quarter that put Los Angeles ahead by 12 points early. Golden State controlled most of the first half with solid performances on both ends of the court.
''We've just been playing both halves,'' Ellis said. ''Mainly I think it's our defense, limiting teams to one possession versus getting second-chance points. And then getting out and running and making shots.''
Curry even added some flair with a half-court underhand pass to Al Thornton during a run that pushed Golden State's lead to seven in the second quarter. The Lakers scored the first six points of the third quarter only to watch another hot start evaporate.
Dorell Wright hit a 3-pointer - and another one in the fourth to finish with 185 on the season - to break Jason Richardson's club record of 183 set in the 2005-06 season. Ellis and Curry also added jumpers, and Golden State went ahead 72-55 after three quarters.
The lead was big enough that Jackson didn't even bring Bryant in the game until a little more than 6 minutes left. He sat along with Ron Artest and Derek Fisher for heavy minutes watching another miserable late-season defeat, and by the time they returned, it was far too late.
The Lakers continue to believe they can win when it counts.
''We're not locked in,'' Bynum said. ''We're complacent. I just think we're going out there and playing kind of stupid basketball. We know that come playoff time, everything's going to be fine.''
Notes: Warriors C Andris Biedrins missed his 11th straight game with a sprained left ankle. It is becoming increasingly likely he will not play again this season. ... Warriors G Acie Law will have season-ending surgery Thursday on the bone spurs in his right wrist, the team said. ... Rapper and Oakland native Too Short performed with the Warrior Girls during a timeout in the first quarter. ... A video tribute was played during a timeout in the second quarter to honor former Warriors star Chris Mullin, who was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.