EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Let’s start with a fact. These Golden State Warriors aren’t the ones we all grew accustomed to on their way to three championships since 2015.
They won’t have Klay Thompson the entire season and their only reliable scorers are Andrew Wiggins and a guy named Stephen Curry. They had a 6-6 record as of Monday afternoon.
Sticking with truths, the Warriors trailed by 17 early in the third quarter Monday night against the Lakers.
Then it happened, whatever it might be.
The Warriors looked like one of their teams from a few years ago, picking on the Lakers’ top-rated defense by scoring 67 points in the second half and winning, 115-113.
Curry scored 19 of his 26 points after halftime while undersized power forward Eric Paschall was the most determined player on the court, finishing with 19 points that mostly came from blowing by Lakers defenders.
“We love getting down by 20 or so,” Curry told TNT jokingly. “We weathered the storm against a championship-caliber team. It’s a big win for us.”
And an unexpected loss for the Lakers (11-4), who had been pummeling teams defensively. Then came Monday and a reason to renew focus.
Paschall punctured the Lakers’ interior defense with several successful second-half drives while Wiggins got hot from three-point range. It wasn’t Curry’s best game but he had seven points and two assists in the final few minutes.
“It’s hard to keep that sense of urgency for 72 games,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “It does suck to lose but it’s not like we’re dying.”
The Lakers’ three-point shooting, a source of strength this season, abandoned them in a second half where they made only four shots behind the arc.
The game almost ended on a disjointed possession where the Lakers took a necessary timeout with 1.7 seconds left. Then LeBron James lofted a three-point shot that was off the mark as the Lakers’ five-game winning streak ended.
Dennis Schröder rode a hot start to a 25-point night, but neither James (19 points) nor Anthony Davis (17 points) were overly accurate and combined to make only two of seven shots in the fourth quarter.
It doesn’t get easier for the Lakers, who start a season-long seven-game road trip Thursday in Milwaukee. They also face Philadelphia and Boston on the 12-day trip.