With D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis at the top of their games, the Lakers blasted the Warriors to win Game 3.
As the series returned to Los Angeles, the Lakers protected the home court and continued their undefeated streak at Crypto in this playoff series by beating the Warriors in Game 3, 127-97.
Most of the first half was an offensive struggle for the Lakers, but the 30-8 run to close out the first half turned the tables. D’Angelo Russell was sensational, giving the Lakers a strong offensive start with a 21-point performance. Anthony Davis responded with a rebound game after his disappointing game in Game 2. He finished the night with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks.
From the jump, Russell was the best version of himself. He went 5-7 from the field and had three 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. After a nice spinning move on Klay Thompson, D-Lo gave LA an early five-point advantage.
With Austin Reaves struggling heavily in all series (he had a terrible corner airball three in the first), Ham brought in Dennis Schröder and Lonnie Walker IV as substitutes to get more offensive output. The result was not positive, as Dennis managed just two runs and Golden State went 18-4 to finish the first twelve minutes by seven.
LeBron James didn’t attempt a shot for the entire first quarter. This has never happened in the 275 playoff games he has appeared in. The trend continued into the second as he didn’t shoot until 8:03 when he missed a jump. James finally made a basket midway through the quarter and drove to the basket to get to the line ending the half with 10 points. A very confusing start for the King.
LeBron started later in the game – and made LeHistory with his sixth bounce putting him ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for fifth on the all-time NBA playoff rebounds list. He continued to pick up his pace and finished the game with a respectable stat line of 21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, although he didn’t seem to impact the game as much as he normally does.
After being stuck in the mud for most of the first half, the Lakers offense finally broke free and went on a 30-8 run to go 11-11 at halftime. The run was a combination of D-Lo continuing to be the best offensive weapon, Davis being as committed as he was in Game 1, and mental error after mental error from Golden State, including multiple technical fouls, fouls and three defensive. call seconds.
The start of the second half was a point game as each team traded five-point flurries, but even with the Lakers in double digits, the game still looked up in the air. LeBron finally had an elite shift with over three minutes left, deflecting a pass and running at full speed through the stands, making a mesmerizing block on Jordan Poole and finishing to the edge with the power to extend the Lakers lead to 18 points all but securing victory.
The final setting was a celebration. Reaves eventually hit a few jumpers, Dennis hit a dagger three with nine minutes left and celebrated “ice in his veins,” and LA’s advantage soared to 26.
With the game out of reach, both teams emptied the benches and garbage time ensued for the rest of the night.
Key points to remember
Thanks to D-Lo and AD who were sensational all night, the Lakers take a 2-1 advantage. Despite the victory, there are many questions that this game revealed. Can the Lakers figure out how to get a good AD and LeBron game at the same time? Is Lonnie Walker IV now in the rotation, and if so, does that eliminate Wenyen Gabriel?
Playoff basketball is a game of adjustments, and LA will have to figure out how to improve while predicting and reacting to the changes the Warriors will make again in Game 4 in Los Angeles.
Every game at this point is huge, but for LA to go 3-1 would be huge, because only 13 teams in NBA history have come back from that deficit (and one famously had the guy which the Warriors will face).
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.