The Los Angeles Lakers looked like they were half-asleep for much of Game 2, as their defensive rotations were a step or two late, and they were too slow to react to the Golden State Warriors’ offensive sequences.
Time and again, the actions off the Warriors’ pick and rolls and dribble handoffs resulted in good looks, especially for Klay Thompson, who scorched LA with 30 points and eight 3-pointers in their 127-100 win.
But Game 3 on Saturday was a much different story. The Lakers’ defense sizzled from the second quarter on, and they held the defending world champions to 39.6 percent shooting overall and 29.5 percent from 3-point range while allowing only 97 points.
The Lakers were tighter in their rotations and coverages, as they gave Golden State less airspace and recovered better on its cuts to the basket and shot fakes from the outside. It resulted in a 30-point win for LA and a 2-1 series lead.
Head coach Darvin Ham said that a key was keeping “a body in front of” Draymond Green and not letting him spring loose for easy baskets off passes following pick and rolls. Green had 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting in Game 2, but in Game 3 he had only two points on 1-of-4 shooting.
But Ham said the biggest adjustment was simply an attitude adjustment.
“I think after that first quarter, guys just really turned it up. They dialed it up with their competitiveness, and just the communication was great, us being aware of who was on the floor for them, who’s coming out, what combination of players are out there, which kind of dictated some of our coverages. … But the basic foundation of us executing anything is our approach, our energy, our effort, our urgency. You can be audible, you can come out with coverages all you want, but if you don’t put anything into them, then nothing’s gonna work.”
The Lakers turned an 11-point second-quarter deficit into an 11-point halftime lead by locking in and executing better on the defensive end, which fueled their offense. From that point on, Game 3 was the reverse of Game 2 when Golden State went up by 11 at intermission and drowned LeBron James and company the rest of the way.
Los Angeles will need to maintain the same effort, energy and urgency in Game 4, as a Warriors win in that contest would give them at least a slight advantage for the rest of the series. But if the Lakers win Game 4, they would take a commanding 3-1 lead and put the Warriors on the brink of extinction.
Ryan Hollins: ‘Whoever wins this Game 3 wins the series’
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire