Even with Monta Ellis(notes) in the lineup, Golden State has been unable to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in almost three years. Without its star, pulling off that elusive victory becomes an even bigger challenge against the two-time defending NBA champions.
The Warriors could be without one of the league’s top scorers Wednesday night as they try to avoid a 12th straight loss to the visiting Lakers, who are coming off one of the most dominating performances in franchise history.
Averaging a team-leading 25.2 points, Ellis is a game-time decision for this contest as he recovers from flulike symptoms. The Golden State star has not missed a game in 2010-11 after sitting out 73 of 162 games over the previous two seasons.
“I think once the game starts with the preparation mentally, he’ll be ready to play,” Warriors coach Keith Smart said. “It’s still going to come down with how much strength he has. We need him to be ready to play at a high level every night for us, but especially these kinds of games like this, he needs to be up and ready.”
Though Ellis was held to a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting in a 117-89 loss at Los Angeles on Nov. 21, and 13 while going 4-of-19 from the field in Sunday’s 105-91 loss to the Clippers, the Warriors (15-22) need to be at full strength while trying to beat the Lakers for the first time since March 23, 2008.
Golden State begins a stretch of 13 of 14 home games by trying for a fourth consecutive victory at Oracle Arena.
The Lakers (28-11), however, have averaged 124.0 points on 49.8 percent shooting while winning five straight at Golden State dating to a 108-106 loss on Dec. 14, 2007.
Golden State averages 101.7 points, but has been held to 86.0 per contest on 37.8 percent shooting in two games against the Lakers this season - both in Los Angeles.
The Lakers flexed their defensive muscle in Tuesday’s 112-57 rout of Cleveland for their best defensive performance during the shot clock era. The Cavaliers’ point total was a record low by a Lakers’ opponent.
“We had a defensive goal,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We wanted to try and limit them to as few points as possible.”
The Lakers held the lowly Cavaliers to 29.9 percent shooting, including 1-for-14 from 3-point range, while posting the third-largest margin of victory since moving to Los Angeles.
Opponents have shot 40.3 percent and averaged 83.8 points during Los Angeles’ current five-game winning streak.
Bryant has averaged 30.2 points in his last 20 games against the Warriors. Gasol, meanwhile, averaged 27.0 points and 11.0 boards in the previous two meetings with Golden State.