The 2013-14 version of the Los Angeles Lakers makes everyone look better, and the same can be said for their game with the Golden State Warriors, finally breaking a 12-game losing streak at the Staples Center as Stephen Curry led them to a 112-95 win with his fourth triple double.
It’s the most for a Warriors players since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1963-64 season, before he switched to the Sixers. Curry finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists as it looked like the no-defense of the Lakers made everything he did: Shoot, pass, cut to the basket and anything else you might think of, as the right decision. The more important thing out this whole visit was clinching the playoff spot for a second consecutive season.
An organization with two NBA championships, but the last couple of decades haven’t been too kind or successful. The playoff drought from 2007 ended last year in an impressive run that included knocking off the Denver Nuggets and making things quite difficult for the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals. This year, getting to the playoffs for a second straight year is the first for the franchise since 1992, the last strong year from the Mullin-Hardaway duo under Don Nelson.
Mark Jackson isn’t Nelson, for good and bad. He believes in defense first, something the Warriors have struggled to make a consistent thing, partially because of the injuries to Andrew Bogut who can’t seem to stay healthy for too long. Whatever their problems are, playing the Los Angeles Lakers is like this magical pill that makes everything seem fine. The offense looks smooth and flowing with every move Curry makes towards the basket, and the defense suddenly has no problem locking down the paint – not that the Lakers offer too much of an opposition.
The Lakers did have the 25 points from Nick Young who is busy these days in more than just putting up big numbers, but also making sure the Lakers’ front office knows he wants to stay with the team for a long long time. Jordan Hill scored 18 points, but that was about it from the Lakers, shooting only 39.3% from the field and getting beaten up on the boards 57-42. David Lee played off the bench for the Warriors and grabbed four offensive rebounds.
Now two things are of concern to the Warriors as we enter the final week of the season: Trying to remain in the sixth spot and avoiding sliding any further, although any of the three teams (Clippers, Thunder, Spurs) aren’t exactly a heartwarming option for them to face, and simply paying better, which means trying to get guys like Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala (who didn’t play in the win) into something of attack mode, and start giving them a couple more offensive options that have nothing to do with how well Curry plays.
Stephen Curry might be an All-NBA player this season and the usual consensus pick for the best shooter in the game. However, he isn’t good enough to carry a talented yet problematic team deep into the playoffs without quite a few guys around him moving into an extra gear once elimination and hitting the off-season becomes a real threat.