Lakers – Warriors, Take 3

Lakers WarriorsFor the third time in 14 days, the Lakers will face off against the Golden State Warriors in preseason action.

L.A. took Game 1 (118-101), and the Warriors emerged victorious in Game 2 (110-90), with both teams learning a few things in the process. Here’s a look across some of the more notable story lines between the two teams:

1) No One Can Guard Andrew Bynum
L.A.’s young center did whatever he wanted against Andris Biedrins and Anthony Randolph in the first two matchups, making a combined 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) of his shots for 43 total points. He played roughly 31 minutes per game, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots. Low post defense is not Golden State’s forte in general, but the task was even harder without Ronny Turiaf, out with a sprained left knee. Of course, no one else has stopped Bynum either, who ranks third among preseason scorers with a 20.4 average, and 17th on the glass at 7.4 per night.

2) Young Talent’s Fun to Watch
They’re not old, they’re full of athleticism, and they like to push tempo. A snap shot at the precocious Warriors:

- Anthony Randolph, 20: The league’s youngest player last season, Randolph closed out his rookie year by averaging 13.5 points, 10.5 boards and 1.59 blocks in 32 minutes over the final 12 games.
- Stephen Curry, 21: The 7th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Curry busted onto the national hoops scene by shooting Davidson deep into the NCAA Tournament during his junior season, and is ninth in the NBA in preseason assists (5.8).
- Andris Biedrins, 23: The lengthy Latvian put together 17 straight double-doubles last season.
- Monta Ellis, 23: The explosive guard averaged 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists in last season’s final 11 games.
- Anthony Morrow, 24: As an undrafted rookie last season, Morrow ranked first in the NBA in three-point percentage, nailing 46.7 percent of his shots, becoming the first player in franchise history to lead the league from distance.

3) The Lakers are Long
Sure, the Warriors (and every other team) already knew this from last season, but that doesn’t mean they have an answer. Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom give not just the Warriors but every team in the NBA fits, but when your starting power forward is a super-talented but lean 6-10, 210-pounder (Randolph)and your center (Biedrins) is quick but also quite movable at 240 pounds, it’s going to be a particularly long night in the paint. And while Gasol (hamstring) could miss the game, Lamar Odom (shin) is expected to play. Furthermore, wings Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant can be just as devastating on the low block as Gasol, Bynum and Odom, so there’s no break defensively when you’re playing the Lakers.

4) MASH Unit
Last season, the Lakers suffered their share of injuries, most notably Andrew Bynum’s MCL tear and minor injuries to Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton, but the Warriors combined to miss the third most games of any team in the NBA. Ellis missed 57, Brandan Wright 41, Corey Maggette 31, Stephen Jackson 21 and Biedrins 20. Wright, injured in training camp, is out for the season; the rest are healthy.

5) They’ve Got Shooters
Seven Lakers have hit at least one three-pointer in the preseason, in part because of item No. 3 – since so many Lakers require a double-team, there are going to be open three-point shooters. Period. Enter Derek Fisher, Sasha Vujacic, Artest, Adam Morrison, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton (when playing) and also Bryant. Yet it’s actually the Warriors that have shot the ball better from deep in the preseason, ranking 7th in three-point percentage, while the Lakers are sitting at 20th. Leading the way for the Warriors is Morrow, who’s made a preseason high 19 threes in 37 attempts (51.4 percent).