At least once in each of the past three years, while rising to elite status, the Warriors have confronted the reeling Lakers and been slapped into reality.
It happened again Friday night, as the Warriors fell behind from the start and never caught up, taking a 117-97 beating at Staples Center.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 27 points, but did not get much offensive help. Draymond Green had 16 points, Stephen Curry 13 and Klay Thompson 10 as the Warriors saw their four-game win streak snapped.
Lakers coach Luke Walton, who spent two seasons as a Warriors assistant – and 43 games as interim head coach last season – won his first head-to-head matchup with the man who brought him into NBA coaching: Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Walton’s team was better in every phase, as the Lakers (3-3) played composed basketball while the Warriors (4-2) shot multiple air balls, missed numerous defensive assignments, bounced balls off their feet out of bounds, and even slapped a ball through the net at the LA end of the court.
So bad was it that Curry failed to make a 3-pointer for the first time in 157 regular-season games. He was 0-of-10 from deep.
On a night when nobody in a Warriors jersey served with real distinction, Durant provided some offensive spark and Green did mostly solid work at both ends.
Durant’s line: 27 points (10-of-16 from the field, 2-of-4 beyond the arc), five rebounds, three assists and two steals. He played 35 minutes and was minus-17.
Green’s line: 16 points (6-10, 0-3), nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. He played 34 minutes and finished minus-10.
When the Warriors rallied within seven (89-82) with 47.2 seconds left in the third quarter, the Lakers came back with a 14-5 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to go up 103-87 with 6:57 left.
The Warriors only faded from there.
Warriors: G Pat McCaw (L ankle sprain) is listed as doubtful and declared out prior to tipoff. C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery recovery) was listed as out.
Lakers: C Timofey Mozgov (L eye soft tissue contusion) was listed as doubtful and declared available prior to tipoff.
The Warriors return to action Monday night, when they face the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.