Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
It was primarily a starless night in Los Angeles, as Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Warriors players Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell rode the bench. Golden State, led by Steph Curry and a cast of rookies and young players, fell to the Lakers 104-98 in a rather sloppy performance.
Here are some observations from the game:
Steph the leader
Curry has not always been a very vocal leader, but he has been one to lead by example. In the third preseason game last night, he clearly made a point to play some passionate defense. For stars like Curry, traditionally giving maximum effort in the preseason seems unnecessary and sometimes counter-intuitive. But last night, Curry either made the conscious decision to work on his defensive game, or show this young Warriors team how important it is to emphasize defensive effort.
Curry's physical build and offensive greatness have made many over the years take his defense for granted, but at his best -- which includes not reaching and collecting fouls) -- Curry is a stout defender that can hold his own. Last night, he finished the game with two steals and two blocks in just 21 minutes of action.
If the Warriors are going to make a run for the playoffs this year, it'll be important that the team reflects that same defensive mindset.
Lee stands out
Damion Lee did not make a three-pointer in four attempts, which in most cases would mean that he had an ineffective game. However, Lee impressed in many other facets, including finishing 7-for-7 from inside the arc, drawing fouls, collecting nine rebounds and three steals, and finishing the game with a team-high 18 points in just 23 minutes.
If Lee plans to get significant playing time, and perhaps become a permanent fixture on the roster, he will have to continue to show the coaching staff and front office that he can play an all-around game like last night. At the minimum, Lee normally can be a trusted three-point shooter who plays with a high-motor. But if he can keep excelling in other ways, he assuredly will find himself in the Warriors rotation.
Alfonzo McKinnie started the game off in a strong fashion doing what he does best, playing with high-energy and crashing the glass. He even hit a three-pointer on his first attempt shortly after checking into the game in the first quarter. Unfortunately for Zo, his play regressed as the game went along.
Regardless, McKinnie gave a brief reminder of what he can bring to the team that is so desperate for solid small forward play. If the front office plans on adding Marquese Chriss to the roster, they would have to get creative in order to keep McKinnie around.
But if Zo steps up and plays like he did at the start of last night's game, he is going to make it an even tougher decision than it already is.
Chriss stays hot
Speaking of Marquese Chriss, the former lottery pick yet again played an effective game from the starting center spot. Chriss has made a concerted effort to show he can play down-low and not just drift out to the perimeter, and it has been paying off. He battled around the hoop, collecting 11 rebounds, drawing fouls and converting all six of his free throw attempts.
To the surprise of many, he has shown a willingness to pass with great efficiency, recording four assists in all three preseason games. At this juncture, there is an overwhelming assumption that Chriss will on the opening night roster, with two preseason games left to solidify his case.
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The Warriors shot just 25 percent on 36 attempts from deep last night on a rough shooting night for the team. The Warriors, like all other teams, have become accustomed to random poor shooting performances. Unfortunately, unlike past seasons where the team could still win the game on the defensive end, an off-night offensively might spell doom for them this season.
The margin for error has shrunk considerably this season without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson (for most of the year). With a team as young and inexperienced as the Dubs, there inevitably will be some inconsistency from many of their players, like the 3-for-14 shooting game from Jordan Poole last night.
The story of the season will be whether or not the coaching staff can concoct a respectable defense out of the pieces they have on the roster. If not, the Warriors will have to put up some offensive explosions on a nightly basis.