Ladies and gentlemen, the Golden State Warriors are officially back.
Stephen Curry led a furious second-half comeback on Monday night to lead the Warriors to an improbable 115-113 victory over the defending-champion Lakers in Los Angeles.
Curry tallied 26 points and seven assists, despite shooting just 8 of 22 from the field and 3 of 12 from three-point range. Kelly Oubre added 23 points and Andrew Wiggins chipped in 18, while Eric Paschall contributed 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists off the bench, helping Golden State (7-6) earn a statement victory.
“We spoke about being great on the defensive end,” said Draymond Green, who recorded seven points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. “Down the stretch, in order to make that comeback, you have to put stops together. It started with our second unit. They’re starting us off and getting a run going and then, from there, we were able to come back in and continue that momentum.”
The Warriors trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and 17 in the third quarter but rallied all the way back to take a 115-110 lead with just over a minute to go. From there, that strong defense put the finishing touches on the two-point victory, with Lakers star LeBron James missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
“I didn’t think we scrapped in the first half,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “I didn’t think we competed. We did that in the second half. The whole half, guys were flying around. Everybody who came in off the bench did a great job. So I just think it was a good lesson for our team that if we compete and defend at a high level, we’ve got a chance to beat anybody.”
The Warriors were able to contain James and fellow superstar Anthony Davis all night, limiting the former to just 19 points and the latter to 17. Dennis Schroder led the Lakers (11-4) with 25 points, while Montrezl Harrell added 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Kyle Kuzma notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.
As a team, the Warriors shot 51 percent from the field compared to the Lakers’ 48 percent. Los Angeles controlled the boards, out rebounding Golden State 50-32, but the Warriors committed just 13 turnovers to the Lakers’ 19.
The win represents an incredible climb from the depths of an ugly 0-2 start to the season, which saw the Warriors outscored by a combined 65 points by the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. Since then, buoyed by the return of Green and the rapid improvement of Oubre and Wiggins, Golden State has begun to look like the team fans were hoping for, although Curry still wants to see more.
“We have to be able to put a couple of these in a row to really prove that this is who we can be and who we are,” he explained. “That’s the challenge within this league, every night, no matter who you’re playing, you’ve really got to fight for a win.”
The Warriors’ next opportunity will come Wednesday night when they return home to face the San Antonio Spurs.