LeBron James got his first true look at the new Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, and he had little trouble putting away the team that so frequently stood in his way in the postseason.
James led the Los Angeles Lakers past Warriors to a comfortable 120-94 win at the Staples Center, their ninth win in 10 games, behind 23 points and 12 assists. Kyle Kuzma added 22 points in the win, and JaVale McGee stepped in perfectly for Anthony Davis — who missed the game with shoulder and rib soreness — to finish with 18 points and 17 rebounds down low.
The loss marked the fifth straight defeat for the Warriors, too, who look completely unlike the team that reached the NBA Finals five straight seasons. While it’s strange for fans to see a young Golden State team missing its star players — Klay Thompson is still recovering from an ACL injury, Steph Curry suffered a broken left hand earlier this season, and Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are either now with new teams or retired — James said he hasn’t noticed.
At least, not when he’s on the court.
“Not when you’re in it,” James said, via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group. “I think when I’m watching them, when I’m at home on my off nights and I’m watching, it becomes weird then just seeing Klay in a suit and not seeing Steph out there. But not when you play.”
James was quick to remind everyone that he’s been on an injury-riddled team like the Warriors before, too.
“I played them in the Finals without Kyrie [Irving] and Kevin [Love], so no,” James added, with a bit of a covered smirk.
James, of course, is calling back to the 2015 Finals — when he tried to, seemingly single-handedly, lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Warriors without both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Love was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs with a shoulder injury, and Irving fractured his left knee in Game 1 of the Finals, sidelining him for the rest of the series.
While James pushed that series to six games, it wasn’t enough. The Warriors took the series 4-2, marking the first of three titles in their historic stretch.
Though it’s not the same situation by any means, and it’s only November, James is clearly happy to be on the other side of things this time around.
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