Lakers 102, Warriors 85
So Evans scored 11 of his career-high 26 points while Los Angeles took a 20-point lead in the second quarter, and Kobe Bryant also had 26 in the Lakers’ seventh straight win over the Golden State Warriors, 102-85 Sunday night.
Brian Cook added 11 points in the Lakers’ second straight win after a season-worst six-game losing streak. The Lakers took control with a 33-7 run in the first half, and were never seriously threatened afterward while remaining unbeaten against their upstate rivals during coach Phil Jackson’s second tenure with the Lakers.
While the Lakers had plenty of energy, the Warriors were running low after losing to the Clippers on Saturday—and staring at a five-game, cold-weather road trip starting Tuesday in Milwaukee.
“They came out with a lot of energy, and we knew if we could weather that storm, we would be able to dictate the game later on,” said Evans, who made his fourth start of the season while the Lakers nurse several injuries. “I definitely thought they were on the brink (of giving up). We were all talking about it on the sideline. We just had to keep the pressure on.”
Evans, an acrobatic forward with his fourth NBA team in four seasons after playing in Greece and Italy, scored two quick baskets in the fourth quarter to surpass his previous career high, set four days earlier against Portland.
Evans had his best moment in the second quarter when he leaped to steal Sarunas Jasikevicius’ attempted entry pass. Evans drove the length of the court, where Jasikevicius wrapped both arms around him for a foul—but couldn’t stop Evans from flipping the ball off the glass and in.
“Mo had some great opportunities, and he really contributed,” Jackson said. “It’s fair to say we’re getting better, but there’s still some room for improvement. We have Mo on our side, and we have to stay with him.”
Though the Lakers are solidly in the playoff picture at sixth place in the Western Conference, Bryant also hopes to get big men Kwame Brown, Luke Walton and Vladimir Radmanovic back from injuries soon.
“We have basically our starting frontcourt out, so it’s thinned our bench somewhat,” Bryant said. “The season is all about peaks and valleys. Good teams are going to bounce back from it.”
Monta Ellis scored 22 points for the Warriors, who followed up a fourth-quarter collapse against the Clippers with a dismal first half. The Lakers also pounded Golden State in the Warriors’ season-opener nearly four months ago in Oakland.
Golden State, which went 2-for-19 on 3-pointers and an astonishing 9-for-21 on free throws, has lost four of six. The Warriors are fighting to remain in the playoff picture despite the daunting road schedule that looms.
“Today’s game reminded me of our first game of the year,” coach Don Nelson said. “I did feel we came out well in the first quarter. We just couldn’t sustain it for the whole game. The back-to-back games have been tough for us all year.”
Jason Richardson scored 15 points, while Andris Biedrins had 16 rebounds and four blocks in the Warriors’ 14th loss in their last 16 games against the Lakers. Nelson hopes guard Baron Davis returns during Golden State’s road trip, but the Warriors are running out of time to build team chemistry in their bid to end a 12-year playoff absence.
“I think this road trip will make or break the season,” Richardson said. “We have five games on the road, and we have to come out positive off of this road trip. If we don’t come out winning games, we might as well hang the playoffs up.”
Evans capitalized on the Warriors’ double teams on Bryant in the second quarter as Los Angeles jumped to a 52-32 lead. The Warriors’ sellout crowd began heading for the exits with 6 1/2 minutes to play while the thousands of Lakers fans in attendance chanted “M-V-P” for Bryant.
“It always feels good to hear MVP chants here in Oakland,” said Bryant, who also had six rebounds and six assists. “This is always a place where we have had a great deal of Laker fans. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
The Warriors wore their yellow “The City” throwback uniforms, and the Lakers wore their Sunday home whites. … Bryant jawed with referee Steve Javie all day, eventually getting a technical from the notoriously quick-whistled ref in the third quarter. … Radmanovic, who injured his shoulder while snowboarding in Utah during the All-Star break, is being called “Slalom Vlade” by his teammates, Jackson said.