Lakers vs. Warriors: Los Angeles leaves itself with more work to do

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With or without a healthy Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors threaten the Los Angeles Lakers' chances of hanging on to their playoff spot.

Stephen Curry's ankle sprain on Saturday came at a bad time. The Golden State Warriors are shooing away the Houston Rockets from the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings, and the up-and-coming point guard was averaging 29.5 points per game over his last four outings.

A game-time decision on Monday, according to the Contra Costa Times' Marcus Thompson, Curry could be of even greater importance against the likely riled-up Los Angeles Lakers, who are fighting for more than their playoff seeding.

It's their playoff lives at risk.

The Lakers visit the Bay Area set to answer coach Mike D'Antoni's public tongue-lashing of his team following a 103-100 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday. The Lakers blew a double-digit lead against the Wizards, and that followed up a 99-76 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday -- although Kobe Bryant was out with an ankle injury for that one.

Point being, Los Angeles has a lot of work to do simply to make the playoffs.

With 12 games left for the Lakers this season, they sit two games in front of both the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks most recently beat Utah to close their gap with Los Angeles, and Rick Carlisle's team has won eight of their last 11.

In Warriors-land, Curry put in 35 points and eight assists during a 101-92 win against the Wizards on Saturday, but he got help as five other Warriors scored in double-figures.

And so Curry or not, Mark Jackson's team should be wary of the Lakers.

Behind the numbers

The month of March has been a deceiving one for both the Lakers and the Warriors.

Golden State, usually regarded as an offense-first team that shoots three-pointers, is only 18th in the NBA in three-point attempts per game in the month of March and 14th for the season. Despite their pace being in the top third of the league, the Warriors have struggled on offense this month as well.

Ranked 11th for the season in points per 100 possessions, according to the NBA.com Stats tool, they have slipped to 23rd in that category in the month of March. But they've made up for it with their defense. Golden State is giving up 97 points per 100 possession this month, the fewest behind only the defensive-minded Indiana Pacers and streaking Miami Heat, according to the NBA.com Stats tool.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has shown some balance recently, ranking 13th in offensive rating and 14th in defensive rating during 11 games this month.

Though the Lakers are 13-22 on the road, discounting them at Golden State could be a mistake considering the harsh message sent their way by their own head coach.

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBATV

Odds: The Warriors opened as one-point favorites, according to OddsShark.com.

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