Good night, joyful holidays, and welcome to Half Two of theScore’s NBA Christmas Day dwell weblog, the place options writers Joe Wolfond and William Lou are nonetheless bringing you real-time response to the NBA’s five-game slate.

With the afternoon motion within the books, we’re right here to convey you reside protection of Lakers-Warriors, adopted by Blazers-Jazz. Thanks for following alongside!

Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors

Lou: It’s a must to give Walton a variety of credit score for a way he organized his protection. The Lakers ignored everybody not named Curry, Klay, and Durant, which is possible when the Warriors are nearly at all times surrounding their stars with least two non-shooters. It is the identical technique that the Raptors used to beat the Warriors two weeks in the past with out Kawhi Leonard.

There’s additionally an fascinating distinction in how the development of those two groups. The Warriors are totally top-heavy and so they don’t have any helpful depth, whereas the Lakers solely have one star however can attain deep into their bench for contributions. Seven gamers completed in double-digits, and the Lakers’ main scorer in the mean time is Zubac with 18 factors.

Wolfond: That shift from Rondo was monstrous. He performed sensible D, actually steadied their offense, got here by means of with some powerful finishes within the lane, and hit a wide-open three. When he and Stephenson mix for extra made triples than Steph and Klay, you recognize one thing has gone horribly fallacious for Golden State.

Caldwell-Pope has carried out a very nice job shadowing Curry (as he at all times appears to), and that is actually taking the Warriors out of their offense. Additionally, we have bagged on the Lakers’ big-man rotation all season, however Ivica Zubac is having himself a hell of a sport.

9:21 4th Q: Lakers 100, Warriors 83

Lou: Let’s pump the brakes only a bit. The Warriors nonetheless look out of kinds, and the Lakers have regrouped behind a number of driving layups and a triple by Rajon Rondo. It is nonetheless a double-digit deficit.

The Lakers must be sensible with the lead – proceed to assault the basket, get to the road, and hold the Warriors out of transition. They will be positive as long as they handle the clock. Preserve doubling Durant, scramble to shut out towards Curry, and let Iguodala and Inexperienced hit jumpers to mount the comeback.

Finish third Q: Lakers 91, Warriors 82

Wolfond: It took the Warriors lower than three minutes to slash that 16-point deficit down to 3. The Lakers may want a miracle to tug this out, so, positive, why not Lance? The remainder of the younger Lakers look fairly shook proper now, and anytime Stephenson hits a shot it appears to utterly demoralize the opposing group. He simply hit a loopy triple on the finish of the third quarter to revive the result in 9! He is 3-of-Three from deep within the sport.

Value mentioning that the Lakers protection has remained fairly stable. With Curry on the bench within the remaining jiffy of the third, they’re sending laborious double groups at Durant, turning him right into a playmaker, and begging some other Warrior to strive rating. Durant has responded nicely, with seven assists, however the Lakers will take that when he is solely utilizing 12 taking pictures possessions by means of three.

In the meantime, LeBron has been recognized with a groin pressure and is formally questionable to return. Predictions for the fourth quarter? How a lot do the Dubs win by?

4:15 third Q: Lakers 76, Warriors 68

Lou: Right here come the Curry threes. First, he pulls up off the excessive display screen after Tyson Chandler drops into the paint. Subsequent journey down, Curry dumps it all the way down to Looney within the put up, earlier than relocating to the nook for an additional wild triple. It looks like each Warriors comeback begins with him.

Let’s have a look at what the remainder of the Lakers are product of. Do they fold instantly or do they maintain their floor? LeBron is sort of definitely out for the evening. Odds are that they collapse. Iguodala continues to be red-hot, and Durant appears decided to get this win.

Who ought to Luke Walton flip to quiet down the Lakers? Looks as if they may use a fast dose of irrational confidence from Lance Stephenson.

6:19 third Q: Lakers 75, Warriors 59

Wolfond: Hey, so, about that Draymond offensive drop-off… the Lakers are daring him to beat them from outdoors and he’s resolutely unwilling to strive. He simply handed up a straightaway 3-pointer by which he had in all probability 15 ft of area and selected as an alternative to drive into visitors in hopes of discovering a passing angle. You may be proper {that a} slower tempo favors the Warriors, however Draymond has solely actually been efficient in transition on this sport (and all season).

In fact, the one factor that basically issues proper now could be LeBron’s groin. He appeared to tweak it whereas lunging for a unfastened ball, and on the replay might be seen mouthing the phrases “I felt a pop.” He is gone again to the locker room and can in all probability miss the remainder of the sport, if not longer.

Do the Lakers have any hope of hanging onto this lead with out him?

8:59 third Q: Lakers 71, Warriors 57

Lou: Put the ball in Curry’s palms and let him run pick-and-roll? That is the very last thing Kerr desires to do. Extra triangle units on deck.

However critically, it appears to be like as Durant desires to take cost. He simply drilled a pull-up three in transition, and got here up with a pleasant help to Looney for the dunk. I do not thoughts this technique as a result of chances are high that the tempo will sluggish to a half-court sport, and that favors the Warriors greater than it does the Lakers.

Halftime: Lakers 65, Warriors 50

Wolfond: I really feel just like the changes for the Warriors are at all times fairly easy. Placing the ball in Steph’s palms and utilizing Draymond as a ball screener is a tried-and-true formulation. Curry could be actually efficient off-ball, however utilizing him that approach makes it a bit simpler for defenses to take him out of the sport.

The Warriors can financial institution on some optimistic 3-point regression within the second half – they will in all probability shoot higher than the 5-of-22 mark they’ve posted by means of two quarters – however additionally they have to ensure the correct guys are taking these pictures. And their non-shooters want to ensure they’re chopping into open area when the Lakers defenders ignore them.

The largest factor the Warriors have to alter, although, is their defensive focus. They let the Lakers get just about no matter they wished, and obtained chewed up by LeBron inside. I’ve a sense they will begin the second half with extra power.

Lou: I am way more involved about Inexperienced’s drop-off, as a result of defenses will nonetheless cowl Klay like he is going for 37 in 1 / 4 no matter his percentages. Defenses are simply straight-up ignoring Inexperienced, who continues to shoot like he is sporting a backpack, and he is overpassing to compensate which is main to crazy turnovers.

What changes are you making if you happen to’re Steve Kerr throughout halftime? How do you get Curry and Durant some extra open appears to be like? They solely have 15 mixed makes an attempt by means of 24 minutes.

Wolfond: Any time the Warriors have a non-threat on the ground, the Lakers are aggressively serving to off that man. Alfonzo McKinnie has taken 9 pictures, three greater than anybody else on Golden State!

The Warriors have their dying lineup on the ground proper now, so this factor might be about to show in a severe approach. Wish to see Curry spend a bit extra time on-ball. Additionally, to your earlier remark about Klay, how involved are you about Draymond’s full offensive drop-off?

Lou: Agreed, this has been an excellent evening from the Lakers. They’re greater than able to being stable defensively (they had been third on protection for a stable month after buying Tyson Chandler) however they’re inconsistent and sloppy. Tonight they appear robust, largely as a result of LeBron is engaged.

It feels like a enjoyable crowd at Oracle Area. It appears to be an an excellent break up between bandwagon Lakers followers and bandwagon Warriors followers. There’s in all probability a variety of this occurring within the stands relying on who’s on prime.

7:36 2nd Q: Lakers 42, Warriors 35

Wolfond: I really feel like if Klay hadn’t had that one sport the place he hit 14 threes (or if the Warriors weren’t so stupidly stacked), this is able to be extra of a factor. He is clearly struggling together with his jumper, and his shot choice, no less than by way of the spots he is selecting to shoot from, is a bit baffling.

The Lakers are doing an awesome job keying in on Steph on the defensive finish and forcing the Warriors to run their offense by means of much less harmful choices. They’d be forward by much more if Andre Iguodala hadn’t responded by hitting all 5 of his pictures for 11 factors in 10 minutes. However the truth that Jonas Jerebko and Kevon Looney have extra field-goal makes an attempt than Durant and Curry is an effective signal.

Finish of 1Q: Lakers 32, Warriors 25

Lou: Stephen Curry and Draymond Inexperienced are battling early foul bother in order that’s factoring into the deficit early on, however the Lakers are taking part in nicely. They thrive taking part in up-tempo, and so they’re capitalizing off open appears to be like.

As an apart, how frightened are you about Klay Thompson? He is quietly had a not-so-stellar season the place he is chucking contested mid-range pictures as if Mark Jackson was nonetheless the pinnacle coach.

Joe Wolfond: LeBron is loving the frenetic tempo of this sport to this point, and taking part in the distributor function brilliantly when he is not romping all the best way to the rim and getting himself to the free-throw line. The Lakers’ function gamers are flattening their threes off James’ kickouts, which has to proceed in the event that they’re to hold round on this one.

William Lou: Essentially the most anticipated sport of the evening is about to be underway. LeBron James faces off towards the Golden State Warriors for the primary time as a member of the Lakers in what might be a convention finals matchup.

… Or not. The Lakers are beginning Ivica Zubac on Christmas, so advancing by means of the primary two rounds of the playoffs is not any assure.

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