A few months ago, LeBron James was stressed and beaten down by the task of toppling the mighty Warriors. He seemingly opted out of that challenge last summer. LeBron signed with the Lakers, a team he said wasn’t close to Golden State. His good friend Dwyane Wade said LeBron chose Los Angeles for the lifestyle.
Maybe the lifestyle of chilling in the locker room while his teammates trounced the Warriors.
Though LeBron left today’s Lakers-Warriors Christmas matchup with a groin injury, Los Angeles rallied for a 127-101 win.
The Lakers led by 14 when LeBron left. Five minutes later, Golden State had cut its deficit to two. But the Lakers didn’t fold. Instead, they piled on.
Rajon Rondo (15 points and 10 assists, +24 in 23 minutes) was brilliant. Ivica Zubac (18 points on 9-of-10 shooting with 11 rebounds and two blocks) dominated inside. The dispirited Warriors were no match.
The Lakers snapped a seven-game losing streak to Golden State and an 11-game losing streak in Oakland.
LeBron was 1-11 against the Warriors his final two seasons with the Cavaliers, including back-to-back NBA Finals losses. He obviously wasn’t the most pivotal to this victory, but he still contributed 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in 21 minutes before exiting.
LeBron’s injury will be evaluated in the coming days, and that will be huge for the Lakers’ level of play. They proved they can flourish without him, but it won’t always go like this.
Especially if they face a locked-in Golden State. The Warriors have been so good in recent years, not even a Christmas game motivates them anymore. Nobody should take this game as a turning point in the matchup.
But it was definitely an impressive night for the Lakers — and a forgettable one for Golden State. These teams are still in quite different places.