Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors (-1, 204.5)
The Los Angeles Lakers did not fare so well when they attempted to work Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol back into the rotation on Friday. With two more days of practice under their belts, the Lakers will try to have a better showing when they visit the surging Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Warriors are one of the teams the Lakers are trying to track down in the Western Conference, though holding off the Utah Jazz is of greater importance.
Gasol returned from a 20-game absence on Friday but struggled to get back into a rhythm in 20 minutes while his teammates let a late lead slip away against the lowly Washington Wizards. Golden State got to face that same Wizards team on Saturday and won with ease as Stephen Curry stayed hot from beyond the arc and David Lee recorded his customary double-double. The Lakers are 2 1/2 games behind Golden State, with the Houston Rockets sitting in between the two. The No. 6 spot means avoiding San Antonio and Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs, though the rest of the teams at the top could be just as tough.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TWSN (Los Angeles), CSBA (Golden State), NBATV
ABOUT THE LAKERS (36-34): Los Angeles has dropped back-to-back games to two of the worst teams in the league and drew harsh criticism after Friday’s loss from coach Mike D’Antoni, who said, “I can’t explain it, but every time we get up by 16, it’s like ‘Well we’re good and we don’t have to play hard,’ and we start messing with the game…(when) you start messing with the basketball gods, they will get you. If we don’t change that, we obviously won’t make the playoffs.” Bryant, who had missed the previous two games with a sprained ankle and the flu, came up short on a tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer and echoed his coach. “It’s a disturbing loss, and we’re upset about it,” Bryant said. “Our defensive intensity slipped a great deal in the second half, and they took advantage of it.” The Lakers are kicking off a four-game road trip at Golden State.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (40-31): Golden State is clinging to a half-game lead over the Rockets for the No. 6 spot but appears to have dodged a bullet when Curry downplayed a right ankle sprain that forced him out in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 101-92 win over Washington. The star guard has dealt with ankle problems for the last few years but told reporters, “I’m fine,” and had the X-rays come back negative. Curry has been on fire lately, going 21-of-38 from 3-point range in the last four games and averaging 29.5 points in that span. The Warriors have won three of their last four with Curry handling the scoring load and Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and even Lee forming a strong defensive front line. Lee, who has always been known more as an offensive force, has posted four straight double-doubles.
* Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a loss.
* Warriors are 6-0 ATS in their last six Monday games.
* Over is 5-0 in Lakers’ last five games following a loss.
* Under is 7-0 in Warriors’ last seven vs. Western Conference foes.
1. Lakers F Antawn Jamison suffered a torn ligament in his right wrist on Friday but is expected to play on Monday.
2. Los Angeles has taken six straight in the series, including a 118-115 overtime victory at Golden State on Dec. 22. Bryant scored 34 points in the win.
3. Curry has struggled to 19 points on 35.9 percent shooting in the two meetings with Los Angeles this season.