BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
In perhaps their most embarrassing loss of a young season that has already seen a number of them, the Warriors were spanked by the Los Angeles Lakers 127-101 in front of a nationally televised Christmas night audience Tuesday evening at Oracle.
While Golden State has already suffered large losses at home to Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and Toronto, this one was even more puzzling as it found the Warriors healthy and at full-strength. Additionally, Lakers star LeBron James went out midway thru the third quarter with what was later reported as a strained groin, only to see Los Angeles extend their lead without him. Los Angeles turned the game into a rout by outscoring the Warriors 36-19 in the fourth quarter with their star in the locker room.
Kyle Kuzma lead a balanced Lakers attack that saw seven players score in double figures. Kuzma netted 19, while Ivica Zubac, their unsung center, scored 18 points on 9-10 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. Los Angeles out rebounded the Warriors 49-37 while shooting at a 55.3% clip from the field. James tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action, and Rajon Rondo added 15 points and 10 assists off the bench.
The Warriors, who shot an anemic 40.9% from the floor, were paced by Andre Iguodala who led the team in scoring with a season-high 23 points (9-12). Kevin Durant added 21 points with team highs of seven rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes. Steph Curry scored 15 on an uncharacteristic 5-17 from the field. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were both no-shows, each shooting just 2-7 from the field while combining for a total of nine points.
After the game, the Warriors made no excuses. Asked about not playing like his normal self in Christmas Day games, Steph Curry replied ““It’s been a tough go. Tonight was one of those nights we just got outplayed from the jump. Pretty embarrassing effort in terms of the first half not really executing well, not having a purpose about what we were doing. We obviously fought our way back in the third quarter, but just (too many) breakdowns. Obviously they shot the ball well, but a lot of breakdowns that gave them so much momentum in those deciding moments. I didn’t do anything to help tonight either.”
Asked about losing games in such a fashion at home, he added ““In the moment it’s just a tough feeling. We haven’t had that in a while, over the last four or five years. The three games we lost at home to Toronto, Milwaukee and tonight where we get blown out it’s just a tough pill to swallow. Just getting outplayed. If we can just develop some consistency knowing teams are coming after us and playing us a certain way that’s different than it’s been the last four years, we got to make adjustments and it starts with us as players playing better. I think we understand that and we aren’t going to get down on ourselves at all understanding what we are capable of and what we are trying to accomplish the rest of the season.”
Questioned about whether there is a problem with motivation following long championship seasons, Coach Steve Kerr stated ““It’s a tough question. We got off to a great start, but it’s a long year and a long haul. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs. What we did a few years ago was the exception – this is the rule. This is how most NBA seasons go when you look at the history of the league. We’re in second place in the Western Conference. This is kind of how seasons go. You lose some games, you lose some home games and you try and get on some streaks. You don’t win 73 games. That just doesn’t happen. I think the bar has been set exceptionally high here by our players, so people are expecting that same thing to go on, but the reality is we are in a different point as an origination and as a team and we have to fight through the adversity that hits, like a game like tonight, and keep moving forward.”
This was the first time that the Warriors and Lakers have faced each other on Christmas Day since 1954, prior to either team moving to California.
After only losing by 20 or more points at Oracle twice in Steve Kerr’s first four seasons, the Warriors have now lost by at least that margin four times in the 2018-19 season.
In 2017, Draymond Green became just the sixth player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Christmas Day, joining LeBron James, Russell Westbrook,Oscar Robertson, Billy Cunningham and John Havlicek.
Kevin Durant’s 44 points against the Nuggets in 2010 is the highest single-game scoring total on Christmas Day by any active player.
Former Warriors center JaVale McGee, a member of the Warriors last two championship teams, was scheduled to receive his 2018 championship ring,but was unable to attend due to a respiratory infection.
Tonight’s loss snapped the Warriors seven-game winning streak against the Lakers.