Warriors embarrass Lakers behind Thompson's career night
David Lee scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Warriors Opening Night win over the Lakers. (USATSI)
LOS ANGELES -- Easily overlooked amid the joy of the Warriors’ 31-point rout of a thin, tired Lakers team on Wednesday were a couple problems they hope to solve as the schedule toughens, as it will Thursday night.
[RECAP: Warriors throttle Lakers 125-94]
There was Stephen Curry struggling with his shot, as he did through much of training camp, and then the matter of coach Mark Jackson in search of an effective player rotation while awaiting the return of small forward Harrison Barnes.
Curry made two of his five 3-point shots and four of 10 overall. The NBA’s best long-distance shooter still is seeking a rhythm; he shot only 36 percent from the floor during the seven-game preseason.
Curry on Wednesday deferred, with good reason, to sidekick Klay Thompson, who came out shooting and scored 38 points on 15-of-19 shooting.
"The way he started out the first six minutes, you know it was going to be one of those nights," Curry said of his teammate. "In transition and some of the play-calling we did to highlight him was definitely useful."
Thompson will turn in numerous other such nights during the season, when he alone will render moot another big scorer. More often than not, though, he’ll need more help from Curry, the Warriors’ most important player.
Jackson concedes he’s tinkering with his rotation, and that most of the time he’ll use his reserves with a couple starters. Wings Andre Iguodala and Thompson will get most of those minutes.
"Andre is a guy that can facilitate and make plays," Jackson said. "It’s important to have one of the starters in there to be a calming effect for that second unit. Klay was a guy that had it going. He’s a guy that can play big minutes and it doesn’t effect him."
The Opening Night runaway didn’t give the coach much to work with, as the Warriors took a commanding lead early and simply pulled away from a Lakers team that was without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and had played at home the previous night.
Jackson can expect a much greater challenge Thursday night at Staples Center, where the Warriors meet the Los Angeles Clippers, who not only are widely considered the favorite in the Pacific Division, but also will be breathing fire after losing to the rival Lakers on Tuesday night.
THE GOOD: Thompson’s sizzling evening, sharp 3-point shooting (56 percent) and overall team defense that held the Lakers to 39 percent shooting (though it was apparent L.A. was somewhat fatigued). Perhaps the most welcome sight was that of backup point guard Toney Douglas making jump shots.
A 36 percent 3-point shooter in his first four seasons, Douglas was awful during the preseason, making only 7 of 29 shots (24 percent) overall and 3 of 13 from beyond the arc. He made 5 of 8 against the Lakers and was 3 of 6 from long distance.
THE BAD: Not much, aside from the unimpressive debut of big man Marreese Speights. Hired to replace the departed Carl Landry (Sacramento), Speights was shaky at both ends. He took 10 shots in 20 minutes, missing eight of them.
THE FUTURE: Rocked by a Lakers team that relied on reserves to pull away in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, the Clips ought to be plenty ornery. New coach Doc Rivers will make sure his players understand the Warriors represent a major challenge -- perhaps their primary challenge -- in the Western Conference.