D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson’s Brilliance vs. Warriors Gives Lakers Hope

LOS ANGELES — On what will undoubtedly be remembered as the strangest Sunday afternoon of the 2015-16 NBA season, the last-place Los Angeles Lakers upended the 55-win Golden State Warriors by 17 points, delivering one of the most stunning regular-season losses in NBA history.

Little from this game made sense. The Warriors—puzzled by L.A.’s swarming, disciplined pick-and-roll defense—couldn’t knock down open threes or find the rim on wide-open layups. 

Three of their starters—including Draymond Green, who finished with nine points, five fouls, seven turnovers and an unfamiliar lack of defensive intensity—failed to score a single point in the first quarter. Stephen Curry, the NBA’s brightest star and leading scorer, missed 14 of his 20 shots and finished with only 18 points, slightly over half his season average.

The entire team went 4-of-30 behind the three-point line, while Curry and Klay Thompson converted only one of their 18 combined attempts from downtown.

From the Lakers' perspective, one win doesn’t mean much logistically. It actually hurts the franchise’s chance to keep its 2016 draft pick, which goes to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside the top three.

But Lakers players and coaches agreed there's symbolic value in their young core playing fearlessly against a historically dominant team. Any signal that inexperienced players like D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson are trending in the right direction is a major plus. 

“For the young guys, I think it’s extremely important to see the result of it. When you pay attention to little details, good things happen,” Kobe Bryant said. “As they grow, they start trusting that more and more, they start trusting the process more and more. So from that aspect, I think it was a big game.” 


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