LeBron James and Anthony Davis face harsh reality after Lakers Game 2 loss

San Francisco, CA - MAY 04: Golden State Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo, left, catches a loose ball against Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the second half at Chase Center on Thursday, May 4, 2023 in San Francisco, CA. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

It was a reality check crushed on the mouth.

It was an equalizer hammered into the ribs.

That’s precisely what’s printed on those silly shirts worn by the screaming locals.

It was golden blood.

Newsflash ! The Golden State Warriors are not going to fall easily.

Newsflash ! The Lakers are going to make this very difficult.

Handed a literal golden opportunity to badly damage the defending NBA champions in Thursday’s Western Conference semifinals, the Lakers squandered a 1-0 lead after coming face-to-face with the hearts of, well, a warrior.

Game 2 was at stake.

It was Golden State hitting Anthony Davis, tormenting LeBron James, blowing past the Lakers like they stood still, winning 127-100 in a merry Chase Center to tie the best of seven series.

“I expect our team to respond,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said afterwards.

The Lakers had better. And fast.

The Lakers franchise has won each of its last nine series tied 1-all, the longest such streak in NBA history, but it doesn’t seem tied.

The next two games in this best-of-seven matchup will take place at Crypto.com Arena starting on Saturday, but it’s no longer like the Lakers can make quick work of their weary Northern California rivals.

It doesn’t look like anything more than…a Klay Thompson rainbow three…a plummeting Stephen Curry three…a crushing rebound from Draymond Green…and a grimacing, crestfallen Davis.

It all starts with the end of this sentence. One game after he was unstoppable, AD was knocked out, overrun by submission, held to five baskets with four turnovers, 11 points after taking 11 shots, illustrating the Warriors’ best chance to win this series.

Launch AD and push your way to the next round.

“The Lakers are huge, they’re a huge team,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterwards. “We wanted to get into the game, we had to bring a little size and physicality.”

That didn’t happen in the first game. It might not happen again. But it happened on Thursday, and the Lakers were demoralized and had to stand.

Except for James’ 23 points and Rui Hachimura’s 21 with four three-pointers, no other Lakers player has really done anything.

“Our stagnation… my eyes saw us settling down a bit,” Ham said. “They did a good job of overcrowding the paint. Not allowing us to play downhill.

Davis said he didn’t feel crowded. He said he didn’t feel like he was settling. He said it wasn’t them, it was him.

“I took all the same shots I took in game one, I just missed them,” Davis said. “Exact same looks, I didn’t fire any shots I didn’t fire in Game 1. I just missed them. That’s it.”

Meanwhile, led by Thompson’s 30 points, the Warriors had six double-digit players while picking up 15 more rebounds, six more points in the paint and five more second-chance points.

While the Lakers were nowhere, the champions were everything, everywhere, all at once.

“I thought we were just playing basketball,” Kerr said, adding, “Our guys were playing with a lot of force, a lot of aggression, but making good decisions within that aggression.”

And pride. Don’t forget the pride. The Warriors were clearly too proud to be beaten by AD for a second game in a row.

“They’re a championship ball club for a reason,” Ham said. “After the first game we expected them to come out and throw tedders, which they did.”

With an interior defense fueled by Draymond Green and JaMychal Green, the Warriors made the necessary adjustments. Now it’s the Lakers’ turn.

“We’re going back to the drawing board,” Ham said.

He better have a ton of chalk.

The rest day between games does not favor James. The speed of Curry and Thompson does not favor the defense of the Lakers. And if JaMychal Green can score 15 points with a trio of threes…yeah, get that drawing board out.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Ham said. “But you don’t get to this stage of the season being easy. You have to hang on. »

The Warriors immediately began their push on the bigger Laker, holding Davis to a field goal in the first quarter and fewer baskets (two) than turnovers (three) at halftime. The Lakers were still leading by seven at the end of the quarter, but without Davis imposing his will, the Lakers ended up losing theirs.

In the second quarter, the Warriors started attacking the basket and Davis with cheerful abandon, Thompson throwing a three from the rafters, the Lakers staggered and rattled and outscored 41-23 the entire ugly period.

And that was it.

The Warriors continued to blitz after halftime, outscoring the Lakers by 19 in a third quarter that ended with James sulking, Davis collapsing and someone named Moses Moody throwing a dunk . The Lakers trailed by 30 after three and the final twelve minutes would not be needed.

The game unofficially ended when Ham pulled the starters before the fourth quarter, but the Warriors just had to scrub it.

With 9:43 left in the game, Curry sprinkled the salt, knocking down a three while being knocked down by Malik Beasley, the Warriors leading by 31, Curry laughing, everyone laughing, it was all so funny… nope.

“You give credit where credit is due,” James said. “They played exceptionally well tonight and we didn’t.”

The Warriors’ variety of weaponry was reflected by their PA announcer, including the initial announcement of “Hollywood royalty!” was accompanied by the giant scoreboard showing a disheveled Danny DeVito. But in the second quarter, the Hollywood royalty on display was the ever-cool Joe Montana, showing off a celebrity lineup matched only by the versatility of the city’s basketball team.

Before the game, Kerr pretty much predicted the rout, saying, “We feel good about our ability to adapt, but also about our ability to react to losing a game and going down in the streak. … This is nothing new for our team. We know what we are capable of. »

Now the Lakers too.

They have won 25 straight series in which they won Game 1. But these are the warriors. And the fight has only just begun.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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