The Golden State Warriors (49-30) were able to bounce back and clinch a second straight playoff berth with a 112-95 victory over the dismal Los Angeles Lakers (25-54). The Warriors had a chance to clinch Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets but blew a 20 point lead and lost what was perceived by some as their worst loss of the season.
Stephen Curry was marvelous from the opening tip, putting up a first half total of 22 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. He finished with 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds on the night, notching his fourth triple-double of the season. Only Wilt Chamberlain has reached that mark in one season in Warriors franchise history. Curry took it upon himself to absolutely make sure that they clinched on Friday night.
Coming off of Thursday’s disappointing loss, Mark Jackson and Company refused to get embarrassed again. After being outrebounded 63-38 by Denver a night earlier, Golden State managed to outrebound the hapless Lakers 57-42. David Lee returned to action after missing seven games with a hamstring injury to collect a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 25 minutes off of the bench. Lee’s positive impact is a great sign for the Warriors as they move forward into the postseason.
Both Andre Iguodala and Jermaine O’Neal were sidelined from an assortment of injuries on Friday. At this point in the season, rest and health are the two most important things. Mark Jackson knows that he will need their full squad if they want to make a deep playoff run.
Steve Blake returned to Staples Center for the first time since being traded to Golden State at the deadline. He was greeted by a haphazardly unemphatic crowd. Blake spent three and a half seasons with the Lakers. He finished with 13 points, five assists and five rebounds.
Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly each posted double-doubles for Los Angeles. Hill scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He has been one of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season. Kelly finished with 14 points and 11 boards.
Nick Young exploded in the fourth quarter and finished with 25 points off of the bench for the Lakers. His streaky shooting can be scary of the opposition when he catches fire. He cut into the Warriors late 21 point lead, but in the end Stephen Curry and the Warriors were just too much for the offensively sporadic and defensively challenged Lakers.
The Warriors shot 49 percent from the floor and 52 percent from beyond the arc. They were able to hold the Lakers to just 39 and 32 percent shooting. The Warriors defense stepped up when they needed it most, playing as the much more physical team. Andrew Bogut had two emphatic blocks on Jodie Meeks that sent him flying into the camera men. Bogut’s intensity has lead the way for the Warriors defense all season long.
Golden State was able to clinch back to back playoff berths for the first time in over 20 years. Because of last night’s late game collapse against the Nuggets, they will most likely face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs as the sixth seed. The Warriors are just one win from 50 on the season, something that has happened just four times in franchise history. They have three opportunities to reach that mark.
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice Writer for the Golden State Warriors