Lakers beat Warriors, begin fulfilling LeBron’s playoff message

LeBron James despatched the message to the Lakers from Salt Lake City.

There will likely be no extra time wasted, no extra excuses and no extra ready.

Sunday, James stated he was about to embark on 23 of an important regular-season video games of his profession — a stretch that might decide whether or not the Lakers would make the playoffs or be out of it for the second yr in a row.

Full-speed from right here on out — and if this was step one, it was a superb begin.

With James struggling and the Golden State Warriors’ protection locked in on Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ depth and protection was greater than sufficient, the Lakers’ cruising to a 124-111 win out of the break.

“Overall, a great team win,” coach Darvin Ham stated.

The Lakers led by as many as 28 — simply the ninth time they’ve led by 20 in a recreation this season. More importantly, it’s the second recreation in row the Lakers have led by 20 — one other dominant efficiency in opposition to a playoff contender after the staff blew out New Orleans final week.

“We’re still figuring it out,” Davis stated. “…But it looks really good. We’re playing well, clicking and we know we don’t have much time.”

The Lakers’ push comes whereas the staff’s urgency is a acknowledged excessive — a pack of playoff contenders all attempting to surge with the Lakers on the rear.

Everyone within the West, save for Denver and Memphis on the prime and Houston and San Antonio on the backside, has no agency of concept of what the postseason future seems to be like. As of Thursday, six video games separated the third-place Kings from the Thirteenth-place Lakers.

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“I think it’s a sprint to the finish line,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr stated pregame. “I know given LeBron’s career and everything he’s achieved that it might sound like hyperbole, but we all feel a sense of urgency at this point. We’re just a couple games ahead of them. We’re all in this precarious position where we could be in the play-in, we could sneak into the six [seed], we could fall out entirely.”

Thursday, the Lakers did with out both of their stars dominating offensively, James capturing simply 5 of 20 from the sphere for 13 factors and Davis scoring simply 12 on 5 photographs.

It was James’ lowest scoring recreation since Nov. 11, 2021 — a recreation the place he was ejected and the fewest shot makes an attempt for Davis this season — minus the sport in Cleveland the place he left early with an sickness.

Lakers guard Malik Beasley controls the ball on his approach to scoring 25 factors in opposition to the Warriors on Thursday evening.

(Adam Pantozzi / NBAE through Getty Images)

It’s additionally the second-straight recreation the place James performed a season-low in minutes.

Malik Beasley scored 25 and 5 bench gamers scored at the least 10 led by Austin Reaves — who went six for six from the sphere to attain 17.

“It could be any guy,” Beasley stated.

The Lakers entered the post-All-Star stretch of the season with a form of stability that they hadn’t skilled in additional than a season, their staff with a clearly established beginning 5 with identification, steadiness and minimal controversy.

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“It’s good to see that,” James stated at shootaround Thursday morning. “Right now we feel pretty good and guys are looking forward to getting out and see how much momentum we can develop with this lineup.”

It lasted 9 minutes.

The Lakers’ rotten damage bug re-surfaced late within the first quarter, newly acquired level guard D’Angelo Russell spraining his proper ankle possibly the least fortunate approach potential — whereas throwing an inbounds move.

After a Warriors made basket, Russell took the ball and stepped again past the top line. He didn’t see Donte DiVincenzo standing behind him, and Russell stepped on his foot, rolling the fitting ankle.

The Lakers dominated him out, and Dennis Schroder began the second half. X-rays have been damaging and Russell will likely be reevaluated within the morning.

Russell stated his ankle was a little bit sore however he was hopeful after some therapy that he’d really feel higher within the morning.

“Wrong place,” he stated, “wrong time.”

The Warriors have been with out Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins.

The win showcased the totally new make-up of the Lakers roster following the staff’s Russell Westbrook commerce on the deadline — a transfer that swapped out one participant for 3 new items within the beginning lineup.

On Thursday, it was Beasley’s sizzling capturing — he rapidly scored eight factors earlier than anybody actually broke a sweat — that set the tone.

“Just a sniper, nonstop staying aggressive,” Ham stated.

The staff now heads out for 3 video games beginning Sunday in Dallas — the primary of their remaining three journeys of the season.

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“Guys know what’s at hand,” Ham stated. They know we don’t have any extra time or video games to waste.”