Streaking Warriors seek a little payback vs. Lakers
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors get an opportunity to exact some revenge for the first time this season when they host the Los Angeles Lakers in the opener of a three-day, home-and-home series Wednesday night.
The club also meet Friday night in Los Angeles.
The Warriors will take a 12-2 record into the doubleheader, having won eight in a row since a shocking 117-97 drubbing at the hands of the Lakers at the Staples Center on Nov. 7.
It appears the early wakeup call was just what the Warriors needed. The two-time defending Western Conference champs have rebounded to win eight straight, including four in a row on a just completed Eastern swing.
After being held to a season-low 97 points in the loss to the Lakers, the Warriors have responded with an average of 120 points during their winning streak.
The impressive offensive run has propelled Golden State into the league lead in scoring (117.1) and assists (30.9) per game.
The Warriors led the NBA in both categories last season — albeit it with lesser numbers (114.9 points, 28.9 assists) — en route to their record 73-win season.
“We've been great on the road the last three years,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson told reporters after Monday's 120-83 win at Indiana. “We want to keep that mentality and carry this momentum back home.
“We're looking forward to facing this Lakers team that beat us.”
Golden State will welcome a key piece of their historic run back to Oracle Arena on Wednesday night when they duel for a second time — the first time at home — with their former assistant coach, Luke Walton.
Walton, who led the Warriors to their 24-0 start last season while Steve Kerr was recovering from back surgery, is now the coach of the Lakers.
Walton's presence and the three resulting high draft picks following 27-, 21- and 17-win seasons have made the Lakers one of the league's most improved teams.
With 2014 first-round pick Julius Randle averaging 13.3 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds, and 2015 first-rounder D'Angelo Russell contributing 16.1 points and a team-high 4.8 assists, the Lakers have vaulted from the NBA's worst offense last season (97.3 ppg) to the league's third-best (109.9).
Even 2016 first-round pick Brandon Ingram has started to get into the flow, having scored in double figures three times in the last six games after just one in his first nine outings.
Ingram came off the bench to score 11 in a 111-109 home win over the Oklahoma Thunder on Tuesday night in a game in which Russell sat out to rest a sore knee and Randle was limited to 21 minutes by a sore hip.
Russell is not expected to play Wednesday in Oakland, either.
The Lakers (8-7) are on the road Wednesday after an inconsistent homestand in which they lost two of four. They've dropped three of five overall, having allowed an average of 117.2 points in those games after holding four of their first 10 opponents — including Golden State — under 100.
That didn't stop Walton from delivering a message to his club before heading north.
“They're probably the ones that are a little nervous right now,” he said.