Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs. Warriors – Game 73 – Play-In-Game


Led by LeBron James and a couple unsung heros, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to get by the Golden State Warriors, 103-100, in the Play-In Tournament to earn the seventh seed.


Lakers vs Warriors
Photo Credit: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a sluggish defense start for the Lakers as they allowed the Warriors to hit their first 4-of-5 shots from the field. Andrew Wiggins hit tough contested jumpers, including a 3-pointer over LeBron James that put Los Angeles down 15-4 early in the first quarter and forced a time out.

The Lakers eventually settled in on defense, making the proper rotations and forcing the Warriors into tougher looks. At the same time, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was able to knock down a pair of threes to narrow the deficit. However, Los Angeles was unable to get several calls in their favor while Golden State was able to get back to executing, which had L.A. looking at a 28-22 hole after one.

Although the Lakers were able to generate open looks, they were unable to knock them down, and a few questionable calls from the officials seemed to rattle the team. James did his best to jumpstart the offense by getting to the rim but was uncharacteristically unable to finish. The Lakers were frustrated, and it showed.


Los Angeles fell behind by 10 as they committed a few live-ball turnovers that ignited the Golden State transition attack. Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors continued to stay hot from beyond the arc and the Lakers would go into the half trailing 55-42.


Lakers vs Warriors
Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The biggest reason for Los Angeles‘ deficit was the play of the Lakers’ three top players in James, Davis, and Dennis Schroder. They combined for just 13 points on an abysmal 4-of-28 shooting.

It was a much better beginning for L.A. atop the third as they played with much more energy and pace to whittle away at the Golden State lead. The Lakers were able to pull within one, but the Warriors responded with a quick offensive spurt to go back up 65-58.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel opted to go smaller, putting Anthony Davis at the five, which gave Los Angeles more room to operate offensively. James returned and sparked the team on both ends, which set up a thrilling fourth quarter with the Lakers down 79-77.

An unsung key to the game was when Vogel inserted Wesley Matthews into the game. Matthews hit a three-point shot right off the bat, but his play on the defensive side of the ball gave the Lakers a much-needed lift and the Warriors fits.  Alex Caruso also had a tremendous game on both ends of the floor. His defense flustered Steph Curry at times and made it more difficult to get off clean shots, and that translated to his offense where he had 14 points, 2 assists, and 3 rebounds.

The Purple and Gold took their first lead of the night after a Kyle Kuzma lay up, and James began to assert his dominance by finishing around the basket. However, Curry and Andrew Wiggins were able to swing the momentum back in Golden State’s favor by getting their offense back on track.


Lakers vs Warriors
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Draymond Green fouled James hard after taking a touch pass from Caruso and attempting to lay the ball in. Green poked James in the eye inadvertently, which was initially ruled a flagrant foul. After review, it was ruled a common foul, but James was having trouble seeing out of his left eye, which was red and puffy. He made both free throws and set the stage for another legendary moment for the King.

It was a tightly contested game down the stretch, with Golden State retaking the lead. James hit a momentous three for over 30 feet out and with less than a minute left to give the Lakers the lead, which would end up being the game-winning shot. After a Golden State timeout out, the Warriors tried to get Curry the ball, but the Lakers defense was tough and stole the ball on the inbound pass to seal the 103-100 victory.


Lakers News and Notes:


Los Angeles Lakers
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Lakers

Things did not go the Lakers way in the first half against the Warriors as they missed several open looks from the floor and did a poor job defensively getting out to the Warriors shooters. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were horrid as they shot a combined 2-of-15 at one point.

“This is a hell of a team, and the entire time we were in the locker room, the first half, we were playing a little hesitant, even myself,” Davis admitted. “You’re playing a little hesitant because of the situation, there’s no, I mean, there is a next game, but there’s no next game, right? So we came out a little hesitant, and we had to remind ourselves at halftime, like we’ve been here before, let’s go and play our style of basketball.

“And we were able to do that in the second half, so we had to find that swag again, find our swag, knowing that we’re the defending champs and nothing’s gonna be easy for us because we do have a target on our back and every team wants to beat us. So we got to know that, and we got to come out a lot better than we did against Phoenix in that playoff series.”

It seemed like the big man really got going after some trash talk between him and Jordan Poole. The two were eventually called for double technical fouls, and Davis acknowledged that it lit a fire under him and a similar situation with James and Juan Toscano-Anderson.

“I didn’t know they had a little thing back and forth, but yeah, you never want to poke the bear. It’s funny; I told Jordan Poole that too when we both got the double techs, I came down and hit the midrange, and I said, ‘you done woke me up!’ So it’s playoff basketball, that’s what’s gonna happen. Anderson did the same thing with Bron, and we’re confident enough in our games, especially when we’re struggling that you never want to poke the bear. That’s playoff basketball, we love it. We love it. So it’s fun to trash talk and kind of get ourselves going, it’s fun to have our hands back for runs that we did make to hear that crowd come in and be loud in the arena. So it was the atmosphere and environment from the crowd and on the floor of playoff basketball and what everyone expected it to be.”

The Lakers will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

The first game of the series will take place in Phoenix at the Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday, May 23, at 12:30 p.m. PT. The second game will also be in Phoenix two days later, on Tuesday, May 25, at 7 p.m. PT.

The series will then shift to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center. The first will take place on Thursday, May 27 at 7 p.m. PT with Game 4, then happening on Sunday, May 30 at 12:30 p.m. PT. Should the series continue beyond that, Game 5 will be in Phoenix on Tuesday, June 1, Game 6 will be Thursday, June 3 in Los Angeles and a Game 7 would take place on Saturday, June 5 in Phoenix.


The Lakers will travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Game 1’s tip-off is at 7:00pm on Sunday and the game can be seen on ABC.

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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