The Los Angeles Lakers hope to vent three years’ worth of holiday frustration on the visiting Golden State Warriors when the Pacific Division powers of recent years go head-to-head Monday in the nightcap of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
The Lakers will be playing on the holiday for the fourth consecutive year. They’ve gone winless in the previous three, thumped by a total of 60 points by Memphis, Golden State and Boston.
The 2019 defeat was a 130-111 shellacking at home against the Warriors in which Golden State’s Klay Thompson made NBA history by making his first 10 3-point attempts during a 44-point explosion.
The Los Angeles native, currently out of action while rehabbing a torn Achilles, tied two NBA records that day — most consecutive made 3-pointers to start a game and most consecutive made threes at any point of a game.
That win was one of nine for the Warriors in their last 11 appearances in the MLK Day showcase. In all, they’ve been scheduled on the holiday in 20 of the last 21 years and have gone 18-10 since the NBA began honoring the day with a special made-for-TV schedule in 1986.
The Warriors will be facing the Lakers with LeBron James for the first time on the holiday, but they have plenty of experience against the superstar on the third Monday in January.
As reigning NBA finalists from the previous season, the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, led by James, squared off on the King holiday three straight years from 2016-18. Golden State prevailed in those games by 34 points at Cleveland, 35 points at home and 10 points at Cleveland.
James had 16, 20 and 32 points in those games, while Warriors star Stephen Curry countered with 35, 20 and 23.
James declared Saturday that Monday’s appearance means more to him than just a shot at revenge against the Warriors. It’s all about King, he said.
“His name and his words and his legacy still lives on,” James praised. “He’s shining his light on us every day.”
The Lakers have won five in a row, including 112-95 over New Orleans on Friday. It was just the defending champs’ fourth victory in seven home games, whereas they’ve opened the season 7-0 on the road.
James had a 21-point, 11-assist double-double against the Pelicans.
The Lakers haven’t played since Friday, but the Warriors will take the court even more well rested. They were last seen in Denver on Thursday, where they suffered a 114-104 loss to the Nuggets.
A game scheduled for Friday in Phoenix was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Suns.
Curry had 35 points on 14-for-23 shooting, including going 5-for-11 on 3-pointers in Denver. But he got little help from his teammates, who combined to hit just 41 percent of their shots, including going 6-for-18 from beyond the arc.
“We’re not really in sync yet,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr observed after his team committed 19 turnovers, including seven by Curry. “And that’s going to take time.”
–Field Level Media