For a second straight postseason series, the Lakers failed to close the deal in a road Game 5, as the Warriors rode a last-minute run in the 2nd quarter into a 3rd quarter boost that essentially buried the Lakers towards an eventual 121-106 final, forcing Friday’s Game 6 back in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis took an elbow to the head from Kevon Looney midway through the fourth quarter, and did not return, but early indications did seem to be positive.
“I didn’t see the (elbow),” said LeBron. “I just seen the aftermath. But the medical team said he’s doing better. That’s what matters the most.”
AD’s status ahead of Friday evening is of paramount concern to the Lakers, of course, as he’s been absolutely essential to what they do on both ends of the court.
As for Game 5, the Warriors stormed out of the Chase Center gates with a swarm of 1st quarter threes, hitting 7 of 12 in the period, but Davis – who finished with 23 points and nine boards in 32 minutes – had answers on the other end, converting 6 of 8 shots to help keep the Lakers in striking range, down only four at the break after trailing by as many as 12.
The Lakers took a momentary lead early in the second when LeBron and Dennis Schröder hit back-to-back threes, and L.A. continued to stay attached until the final minute of the half.
Despite two more triples from the Warriors, L.A. had a chance to cut the margin to three with 50 seconds left, but LeBron’s short hook shot rimmed out, and a potential offensive board slipped through AD’s hands at the rim.
A defensive rebound then slipped through L.A.’s collective hands on a missed 13-footer from Jordan Poole on the other end, and Klay Thompson ultimately banged home the 10th GSW triple with 31 seconds left. Then came the 8thLakers turnover of the half, as Kevon Looney picked Davis’ pocket, and Curry beat the buzzer with yet another three to put the Warriors up 70-59.
“They’re the defending champs for a reason,” said Austin Reaves. “They come out, and I think start of the first quarter and the third quarter they just played harder than us. That was the main thing. But like I said, we’ll go watch film tomorrow and get better and lock it in for Game 6.”
Golden State’s lead was soon 18 with a third-quarter push, though the Lakers managed to stick around, narrowing the gap to 11 at 93-82 with a good close to the period, capped by a Schröder three and LeBron layup.
L.A., however, wouldn’t get closer than nine points in the fourth quarter, and Davis didn’t return after being subbed out with 7:34 to play, before Golden State ultimately secured the victory.
The Purple and Gold had a playoff-best 105.3 defensive rating heading into the game, but allowed GSW to shoot 51.1% from the field, and 37.1% from three towards their 121 points.
One issue that seemed to frustrate the Lakers throughout was a lack of free throw attempts despite their 45 shots attempted the paint, as they took only 15 from the stripe.
“We played the same way we always play,” said Ham. “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s a foul anymore.”
“Everybody is human,” added Reaves. “You can come in here, say the officiating, this, that and the other, but at the end of the day, we’re players. We’re expected to make shots, but we miss shots. They’re expected to get every call right, but that’s not the nature of life. Nobody is perfect. You can’t even sit up here and blame them for anything.”
L.A.’s focus has to immediately shift to Game 6, where they’ll put their unbeaten postseason record thus far (6-0 including the play-in) on the line.
“Obviously they played exceptionally well here tonight, and we had some good moments, but not as close to 48 minutes as we needed to be, but we’ve got another opportunity on Friday, and we look forward to the matchup again,” concluded LeBron. “We didn’t handle our business tonight, so I look forward to seeing our fans for another game in the second round.”