SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors’ big trade-deadline acquisition, Gary Payton II, spent Saturday night of the fourth quarter sitting alongside Bob Myers and Mike Dunleavy Jr., five rows over the bench. Signs are the stalled four-team trade that delivered Payton will finally get his clearance on Sunday and put him back on the list. But it doesn’t get him back on the pitch.
The Warriors lost 109-103 to a Lakers team that didn’t have LeBron James but had help from D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, all acquired at Deadline to provide immediate reinforcements. That was the point of the Payton trade for the Warriors, an instant infusion of rim pressure and point-of-attack defense for a bench that needed it at a vulnerable time and was trying to survive in the standings without the injured Steph Curry.
But Payton has an abdominal injury, discovered during the recording process, that jeopardizes the trade and will see him out for a considerable time. That left the Warriors with the same available players Saturday night as they did Wednesday night in Portland, when they went scoreless for five minutes in the fourth quarter and gave the Blazers a winnable away game.
The script played out similarly against the Lakers. Ty Jerome, a two-way player sitting in Payton’s scheduled rotation slot and having 18 minutes logged, made a floater with 5:01 left to tie the score at 98. The Warriors didn’t score another point until Donte DiVincenzo scored a contested 3 with 1:34 left – a nearly four-minute scoring drought that put the Warriors too deep into a late game hole to recover.
“They did a good job playing on our shooters and sending everything to (Anthony) Davis,” said coach Steve Kerr.
“Thanks to her,” Kevon Looney said. “They did a good job taking some of our flow and actions away from us and did a lot of top locking and we didn’t take a lot of shots on the course.”
28-28 after the home loss to the Lakers tonight
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 12, 2023
The Warriors lead the NBA in 3-point attempts and are 28th in paint points and last in free throw attempts. Their offense depends on deep ball, and the Lakers, loaded with veterans, executed a plan to overplay the 3 and plug the lane with their elite shot blocker. The warriors did not solve it.
“They saw them play on our shooters,” Kerr said. “So the paint was packed. There really wasn’t much space and we’re not a driving team. We’re not a team made to go to the edge and pull a lot of fouls. That’s why the stats regarding our free throw attempts and penalty points are as they are. Without Steph, Steph is probably our best man when it comes to getting in color and handling some contact. So you see, tonight it was 26 free throws to 12. The other day it was 31 to nine. So it’s tough. You have to do a few 3s if you want to be outperformed on the line night after night.”
The Warriors went 12-of-44 of 3 against the Lakers. Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole combined for 6 of 23. Many of those looks were rushed and contested. Without the fireworks, they wouldn’t be able to score enough to survive in any other way.
There’s no telling if Payton would have helped the Warriors in that particular game, but his inactive arena appearance interrupted one of the more demoralizing weeks of a disappointing Warriors season. They stalled late twice, dropped consecutive winnable games, fell back down to .500 and made a win-now trade midweek for a player unable to help them win now.
“I think our guys are frustrated,” Kerr said. “We’ve had so many close losses and we’re close to the all-star break. I think our boys, like everyone in the league, need a break.”
“When you’re losing games and you’re .500 and you’re not a .500-losing team, it gets frustrating,” Draymond Green said. “But no one will feel sorry for you. Nobody will feel sorry for us. It is what it is. You have to keep fighting and digging out of this and finding a way.”
(Photo of Warriors’ Donte DiVincenzo shooting against Lakers’ Lonnie Walker IV on Saturday night: Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press)
https://theathletic.com/4186550/2023/02/12/warriors-lose-lakers-fourth-quarter/ Warriors lose at home to Lakers after another fourth-quarter drought