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Warriors survive Lakers comeback for 11th straight win

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

Anybody worried about the Warriors having a letdown prior to their marquee Christmas Day matchup against Cleveland was rather quickly put at ease during the Dubs 113-106 win over Los Angeles Friday night at Oracle.

The up-and-coming young Lakers (11-19) have played the Warriors tough this season, pushing them in both early-season games in LA, including forcing overtime in this past Monday’s match up. But on Friday night they came out flat against the defending champions before stunning the crowd with a huge comeback from a 23 point deficit to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Steph Curry, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia were still sidelined, but Golden State, bolstered by the return of Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, jumped out to a 61-44 halftime lead.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Draymond Green hauls in a rebound during the Warriors win over the Lakers Friday night. Green finished with 13 points and 11 boards in his first game back from a shoulder injury.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Draymond Green hauls in a rebound during the Warriors win over the Lakers Friday night. Green finished with 13 points and 11 boards in his first game back from a shoulder injury.

Seemingly cruising midway through the third quarter with a 71-48 lead, the Lakers ripped off a 41-17 run to take the lead with just under eight minutes go in the game following a three pointer by Julius Randle, who provided LA with a significant spark off the bench with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

L.A.’s lead lasted all of 17 seconds before former Laker Nick Young put the Warriors back on top to stay by converting a field goal and free throw. The outcome remained in doubt until the final minute of the unexpectedly exciting game, but Golden State’s depth and experience proved too much for their neighbors from the south.

The win, their 11th straight, improved the Warriors record to 26-6 and pushed them past Houston for the best record in the league for the first time this season.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kevin Durant (35) defends against a driving lay-up by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Lakers during by Warriors 113-106 win Friday night at Oracle Arena.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Kevin Durant (35) defends against a driving lay-up by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Lakers during by Warriors 113-106 win Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Kevin Durant led the way with 33 points, five rebounds and five assists while rookie Jordan Bell had another solid start with 20 points and 10 boards, both career highs. Klay Thompson chipped in 16 while Draymond Green, in his first game back since being sidelined by a sore shoulder added 13 points to go along with 11 rebounds.

After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for Bell’s continued rapid maturity to playing at the NBA level. “It didn’t shock me. I was waiting to play him with KD and Draymond. They were really good. Jordan had a huge game. He was really impressive and did a great job.”

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Rookie Jordan Bell had another solid effort Friday night. Bell notched 20 points and 10 rebounds, both career highs, to help the Warriors win their 11th straight game 113-106 over the Lakers.
©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Rookie Jordan Bell had another solid effort Friday night. Bell notched 20 points and 10 rebounds, both career highs, to help the Warriors win their 11th straight game 113-106 over the Lakers.

Super rookie Kyle Kuzma led Los Angeles with 27 points and 14 rebounds, becoming the first Lakers rookie to score 25 or more points three games in a row since some guy named Jerry West in 1961. Lonzo Ball, who’s had a rough start to his young NBA career against most of the league, continued to impress against the Warriors with 24 points on 9-16 shooting to go along with five rebounds and five rebounds.

The Warriors return to action Saturday night with a 5:30 pm game against the Denver Nuggets before Monday’s battle with the Cavaliers.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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