(AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers are discovering more and more sources of offense.
The Golden State Warriors can’t say the same.
Though no team is closer to the Lakers’ perch atop the Pacific Division than the Warriors, these teams are very far apart balance-wise – on offense and in this series – going into their matchup Sunday night at Staples Center.
While Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol remain Los Angeles’ most productive players offensively, the team is finding other capable scoring options.
The latest was newcomer Matt Barnes, who went 7 for 7 from the field with five 3-pointers and scored 24 points in a 112-95 win at Minnesota on Friday night.
Shannon Brown added 11 points off the Lakers’ bench – referred to as the ‘Renegades’ by coach Phil Jackson. Los Angeles (11-2) is coming off a perfect three-game road trip which began with Brown’s 21 points keying a win in Milwaukee.
“That’s the depth of our team,” Bryant said. “Any given night guys can hurt you.”
The Lakers are 5-0 this season when Bryant is held under 25 points. Friday marked the third time in four games they’ve had at least five players score in double figures, and the reserves accounted for 45 points.
“There are nights when those guys have carried us,” point guard Derek Fisher said. “They’ve had good scoring, played great defense and to accomplish the goal that we want to accomplish this year, we know it’s going to take an entire team.”
The Warriors (7-5) have been unable to find the same balance lately.
Golden State has followed its surprising 6-2 start by dropping three of four, a stretch during which only four Warriors players have scored in double figures.
Monta Ellis scored 40 points Friday, but Golden State lost 125-119 to the visiting New York Knicks.
“Monta is playing like our superstar,” first-year coach Keith Smart said. “Is he a superstar in the minds of everyone else? We’ve got to get somebody else on our team – two, three, one guy – to get to his level or halfway to his level.”
Ellis, though, has averaged only 19.0 points during the Warriors’ 10-game losing streak against the Lakers – he missed three of those games due to injury. Bryant has scored more than 30 only twice during that win streak.
Los Angeles has won 24 of 27 overall versus Golden State, which has beaten the Lakers at Staples Center once in its last 15 tries. The teams’ lone meeting this season came in Los Angeles on Oct. 31, and the Lakers rolled to a 107-83 victory behind Gasol’s 26 points and 13 rebounds.
“We’ve been pretty successful against them the last couple of years, but the thing you can’t do is relax,” Gasol said. “If you fall asleep, they can score a lot of points.”
Golden State has finished first or second in the league in scoring each of the past four seasons but doesn’t currently rank among the top 10. The Lakers are first with 112.2 points per game, nearly 10 more than the Warriors.
“You have to be firing on all cylinders to have a chance to beat that team,” Smart said after last month’s loss. “That’s why they’ve got that (championship) banner out there.”
Smart didn’t have Stephen Curry, who has scored 50 points over the last two games, available for the first game against the Lakers and won’t have another key player in uniform for this one. David Lee is out due to an infection on his left elbow.
Updated November 20, 2010
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