OAKLAND, Calif.--Still riding the high of a gutty, all-for-one performance the night before, the Los Angeles Lakers trended back toward center Saturday, sticking with the Golden State Warriors for one half before losing, 102-83.
Playing without Pau Gasol because of an upper respiratory infection -- and a well-documented host of other key players -- the Lakers once again came undone at Oracle Arena, where they had already lost by 31 points earlier this season.
But that was before a year of persistent disappointment and pleasant surprises began to come into focus.
With Kobe Bryant and three point guards all out injured, the Lakers now rely on Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson. When those players flourish, as they did in a 104-91 win over Minnesota on Friday, the Lakers are an entertaining sight.
But those good vibes didn't make the trip to Oakland, or perhaps stayed at the team hotel in San Francisco along with an ailing Gasol.
Henry and Meeks both played more than 40 minutes Friday and neither of them, or anyone else, ever found any offensive rhythm Saturday.
"We ran out of gas," Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We were four points down at halftime and when your legs go a lot of times the shot goes."
The Lakers trailed, 46-42 at halftime, thanks to just 34 percent shooting from the Warriors (15-13). But in the third quarter the Warriors, who were led by David Lee's 19 points and 10 rebounds, began to heat up. The Lakers were 3 of 21 from the field in the quarter and were outscored, 26-15.
"If a couple shots would have went down, it would have been a completely different game," D'Antoni said.
But shots fell for no one.
Johnson was 0 for 7, Meeks 4 for 11, Henry 2 for 8 and Chris Kaman, in a season-high 24 minutes, 5 for 17. Even leading scorer Young struggled from the field, making 5 of 18 shots and needing nine free throws to get to 20 points.
Kaman finished with 10 points and 17 rebounds, while Jordan Hill also recorded a double-double with 14 and 10.
When Kaman came in
With Gasol out for at least one night, Kaman found himself not only back in the rotation, but the starting lineup. After going more than a month without playing meaningful minutes, however, the 11-year veteran has measured expectations for what the recent upswing in opportunities could mean for the rest of his tenure with the Lakers.
"I can't predict anything," said Kaman, whom the Lakers signed as a free agent using their mid-level exception. "I can't control anything. When I get an opportunity I go in there and take advantage of it if I can. That's kind of how it goes for me."
Kaman played just 17 minutes in two games (both blowout losses) between Nov. 17 and Friday, when he played 16 minutes in a win against Minnesota. The bench time was because of an apparent combination of persistent back issues and D'Antoni's preference for rangier, shooting big men.
Asked if he saw himself getting back to his role in the preseason, where he and Gasol developed chemistry side-by-side, Kaman was doubtful.
"I'm not sure that they want that," he said. "I don't know, it just seems like from how things are going so far this year ... that they want a little more mobile lineup."
Warriors forward Marreese Speights was ejected with 9:34 remaining in the fourth quarter after being called for a flagrant-2 when he wrapped both arms around Young's neck to prevent a layup. ... The Lakers were 4 of 20 on 3-pointers, while the Warriors were 12 of 31. ... In three matchups with the Warriors, the Lakers have lost twice. They do not play the series finale until April 11 at Staples Center.
(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services