SAN FRANCISCO – After all those thrilling NBA Finals battles of last decade, Stephen Curry and LeBron James can still put on a spectacular show well into their 30s.
Opening night between these two greats showed why Curry's team is on top these days.
Curry began the season with 33 points, seven assists and six rebounds despite a slow start, and the Golden State Warriors beat James and the Los Angeles Lakers 123-109 on Tuesday night after receiving their championship rings in a pregame ceremony.
“I’m thrilled with the win,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Ring night is never an easy game and the first game of the season is usually filled with some nerves early on.”
Jordan Poole made a pretty bounce pass to a driving Draymond Green for a layup and all seemed perfectly well with the defending champions almost two weeks after Green punched Poole at practice Oct. 5, then took a brief leave of absence from the team to work on his emotions. Poole wound up with 12 points and seven assists.
“We went out there, we had a job to do tonight to win a game,” Poole said when asked if healing has happened between him and Green. “It was a ring night and that's really what we were focused on finishing the first game. It was a huge win against a really good team.”
James had 31 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, while Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds after nursing a sore left hamstring. Anthony Davis added 27 points, but the Lakers couldn't keep up in another signature, runaway third quarter by reigning NBA Finals MVP Curry and Co.
“That third quarter is where they always excelled, when they made this transition to being a powerhouse team,” James said. “You’ve always got to be ready for the third quarters, and we were not tonight.”
Curry missed his initial five 3-pointers and finished 10 for 22, 4 of 13 from deep.
Klay Thompson contributed 18 points in 20 minutes for the Warriors, who celebrated the franchise’s fourth title in eight years.
“It’s really fun to be a part of, it’s really fun to watch,” Poole said. “... These guys have played at the highest level over and over and over again.”
Kerr limited the minutes of both Thompson and Green, who was away from the team until last Thursday. Kerr said he will increase Thompson's minutes each game as a precaution following his return in January from an absence of more than 2 1/2 years for surgeries to his left knee and right Achilles tendon.
Warriors center James Wiseman made his first appearance since his rookie season of 2019-20 after sitting out all of last season recovering from right knee surgery. He had eight points and seven rebounds.
The Lakers' 22 turnovers led to 27 points for the Warriors.
“Whether you make a shot or you miss a shot, you turn the ball over, whatever, you’ve got to have a short memory and get on to the next play immediately,” first-year Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham said. "That has to be something that’s in our fabric, not just against Golden State but against the entire league.”
Ham was thrilled to represent Saginaw, Michigan, in his coaching debut — and proud that it's also Green’s hometown.
“I'm excited for the city of Saginaw, Michigan, to get to see a kid that represents the city well and happens to be playing some really good basketball and playing at a high level his entire career in Draymond Green," Ham said. “And now they get to see another kid who is the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a great night for Saginaw.”
Lakers: F Juan Toscano-Anderson received his championship ring from his former team, the first player to accept the sparkling jewelry. ... Patrick Beverley picked up his third foul with 5:46 left in the first half and shot 1 of 5 for three points. ... C Thomas Bryant had surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament on his left thumb and is scheduled to be re-evaluated by team doctors in about three weeks. “He came in and it was bothering him. The way he plays you know setting screens, diving on the floor, rumble tumble type of big, really providing the physicality, it could have happened anywhere,” Ham said. "Again he got fixed up today so we’re looking forward to a speedy recovery with him.”
Warriors: The Warriors have won three straight at home vs. the Lakers. ... Golden State is 6-1 in home openers after a championship season. ... F Andre Iguodala was inactive for the opener as the Warriors monitor his nagging left hip and manage the 38-year-old forward's playing time at the start of his 19th season.
Lakers: Host the Clippers for their home opener Thursday.
Warriors: Host Denver on Friday night in a rematch of the first round of this year's playoffs after the Nuggets handed the Warriors their lone preseason defeat last Friday.
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