Clash of the NBA Wildcats: Luke Walton vs. Steve Kerr

The NBA game every Arizona Wildcats fan should have watched if they didn’t it was a showdown between the Warriors and the Lakers.

Luke Walton’s Los Angeles Lakers took on Steve Kerr’s Golden State Warriors at STAPLES CENTER on Friday, November 4, 2016. The Lakers went into the game with an already surprising 2-3 record, and the Warriors had just beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder by a whopping 26 points (122-96) the night before.

It was an emotional, and satisfying win for the Warriors, the drama of that game was intense due to Kevin Durant opting to sign with the Warriors and leave Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. On top of the glorious win, they were thrown a softball in their schedule; they were set to play the Lakers the next day. So Kerr’s team turned around and flew down to Los Angeles.

The Warriors were favored by 11.5 points and probably weren’t too worried about the young and inexperienced Lakers. The Lakers beat the Warriors the last time the two teams met, and that was the highlight of their 17-win 2015 season.

Walton is working hard with his young team, most in their 20’s, to get them to ‘buy in’ to his philosophy. His team came out swinging in their first game of the season beating former Sun Devil James Harden’s Houston Rockets. Lakers fans everywhere reconsidered their doomsday rhetoric and held their breath for game two.

Sure enough, the Lakers subsequently lost their next three games to the Jazz, Pacers, and the OKC Thunder respectively. Hope was not lost though when Waltons Lakers beat Atlanta.

Fresh off their win over Atlanta, who’s defense ranks best in the NBA, the Lakers prospects of winning this game still weren’t too high. They weren’t projected even to compete with the Warriors who had won a record 73 games last season.

At the beginning of the season, it didn’t seem any media broadcaster predicted the Lakers would win more than 17-20 games total this season even with former Arizona Wildcat Luke Walton at the helm. Walton was hired by the Lakers organization after coaching the Warriors under Steve Kerr and led the team as an interim head coach to over 40 wins last season. Kerr was recovering from back and migraine issues.

Fans wondered if Walton’s contribution to the Warriors successful 2015 season would prove to be the catalyst for a possible win against them.

The Lakers came out with a bang and never looked back. The team remained in the lead the entire game!

The young and spirited team held one of the most prolific three-point shooters in the NBA to absolutely ZERO 3-pointers made. Yes, Steph Curry’s record was broken by the supposed lowly Lakers. Curry ended the evening on the bench with a goose egg in his 3-point stat column, zero of ten attempts.

Walton’s Lakers ultimately beat Kerr’s Warriors by 20 points, 117-97, improving the Lakers to a 3-3 record (.500).

The Lakers had not only beat the team who won the NBA Championship in 2015 and then went to a game seven against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last year. They snapped Stephen Curry’s NBA-record streak of 157 games with a 3-pointer. He finished the game with just 13 points.

It was embarrassing for the Warriors, but Steve Kerr greeted Luke Walton after the game mid-court, shook his hand and both smiled. Once a Wildcat always a Wildcat, the bond is stronger than any other relationship for the two very close friends and former co-workers. Lovely to see! After all, Kerr is a mentor to Walton, he must be very proud of him.

Luke was humble and low-key as usual in the post-game press conference. The first question he was asked was what contributed to the win? “That’s a great team that we played against,” said Walton, “To beat them on the glass like that and to have that many assists means that we’re playing the right way — Our guys from the opening tip really got after it tonight.”

The team was on cloud nine after the game but kept their decorum in the locker room with the media. Perhaps our sister site’s Lake Show Life Expert Eric Yee said it best: “It’s not every day that you find a group so willing to buy into a new coach’s philosophy and so quickly at that, but the Lakers showed in their victory over the Warriors that they just might be one of those rare outliers.”

Fun Fact: Luke spent the day prior to the game texting his former coach and team with jabs. He also explained how he incorporates another fellow Wildcat to help his No. 2 draft pick, Brandon Ingram, “Or Brandon, if I’m talking one-on-one defensively, I’ll show him clips of Andre [Iguodala] and the way Andre uses his length to give people problems.” Luke has fostered Ingram’s relationship to Iggy.

Their new motto? “I love basketball.”

Here is Luke’s full post game interview care of Ximo Pierto:

Lakers fans are loving the season thus far. Their team is 15 wins away from negating most season total predictions only six games in.

Walton and his team are not paying attention to anyone, they are playing their game, playing as a team, they are bought in and another Wildcat is doing a fantastic job in the NBA thus far in the 2016 season. Kerr’s record at 4-2 ain’t too shabby either, and the only difference is fans expect them to win.

BearDown Luke and Steve! Wildcats for life!

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