With the Golden State Warriors trailing the Los Angeles Lakers 97-81 with 6:41 left to play on Sunday, Stephen Curry brought the ball up the court. For what seemed like the first time all day, no one on the Lakers picked him up at half court. He was supposed to waltz up to the three-point line and sink a high-arcing three like he's done so many times this season and lead the Warriors on a comeback for their 56th win of the season. But Curry missed — he was only 1 of 10 from deep — and the Warriors never made their patented run. The Lakers coasted to a 112-95 blowout win.
It was one of the biggest upsets in regular season history. The Warriors were 55-5 and the Lakers were 12-51. It was the first time a team with a win percentage better than .900 met a team with a win percentage below .200 at least 50 games into a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. And it was never really close — the Lakers had a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Curry had 18 points in the loss as Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell led the Lakers in Kobe Bryant's final game against the Warriors. Clarkson had 25 points and Russell added 21 points and five assists in a game in which the Lakers were consistently a step ahead.
It was an ugly, ugly day for the Warriors, who were a mere 4 of 30 from three — Clarkson, for reference, was 4 of 6 from deep. Curry was bad, but Klay Thompson's 0 for 8 was even worse. Only benchwarmer Ian Clark, who was 2 for 2, could get the ball through the hoop. The Warriors shoot 41.7 percent from deep this season, but made only 13 percent in the loss to the Lakers.
It was disastrous on all counts. They were 2 of 12 on wide open threes (defenders were more than six feet away) and 1 of 10 when a defender was within two to four feet. Curry and Thompson were 0 for 17 from the field when their shot wasn't preceded by a pass, per ESPN's Tom Haberstroh.
Plus, they couldn't take care of the ball. The Warriors turned it over a season-high 20 times — many times on lazy passes around the perimeter that led to fast-break points for the Lakers.
Sure, it was a sloppy, lazy game for the Warriors and almost assuredly a blip on the radar in a historic season, but the Lakers did show a few ways to slow down Golden State. They double-teamed Curry every opportunity they got and, unlike every other team this season, were able to slow the rest of the Warriors, too. The Warriors can often get by even if they fall apart for stretches, but the Lakers never let up. Sensing that a lull would let the Warriors back into the game, the Lakers looked like the team chasing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' 72-10 record.
The Warriors will rebound from this. They're still 55-6 and on pace to pass the Bulls — who, incidentally, made four three-pointers or less 23 times, and in a loss to the Suns shot 8.3 percent (1 of 12). It was, however, a gut check that Curry or Draymond Green can't play hero ball every night. And the race for 73 wins just got a lot more interesting.
3 other things
Russell Westbrook doesn't have to shoot to dominate
The Oklahoma City Thunder coasted to a 104-96 win on the tails of another Russell Westbrook triple-double. He had 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the way, and he did so only taking seven shots. Westbrook was 3 of 7 from the field, but made his presence known in other ways — just like he always does.
Quick highlight: big block from Russ. https://t.co/WJmeuXtpHO— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) March 6, 2016
The man is everywhere on the basketball court. The Thunder have struggled to close out elite teams this season, but they were able to hold on despite a poor second half against the Bucks on Sunday. They have the talent to make a run this postseason, especially if Westbrook continues to do it all.
It's impossible to understand the Houston Rockets
The Rockets trailed the Toronto Raptors by 10 at the half and by eight heading into the fourth quarter. At 3-7 in their last 10 games, the Rockets looked doomed to lose yet another game. But then James Harden took over, scoring 29 points in the second half to lead the Rockets to a 113-107 win on the road to keep the Rockets in the thick of the playoff hunt. Harden had 40 points and 14 assists with only one turnover as the Rockets continued their roller coaster season. When they're at their best, Harden is slicing apart defenses with drives to the lane and they look like the team that was in the Western Conference Finals last season. That was the Rockets team that showed up in the second half on Sunday, unfortunately for Rockets fans, that team shows up sparingly. If the season ended today the Rockets would be in the playoffs. At 31-32, they're a half-game up on the Utah Jazz for the eighth spot.
The Detroit Pistons' ceiling is high
Like the Rockets, the Pistons can beat anyone — they're one of six teams to beat the Warriors — but often end up laying an egg. On Saturday they lost to the struggling Knicks, on Sunday they handed the streaking Portland Trail Blazers a 123-103 defeat. They beat the Blazers with the blue print that's leading the Pistons to success: Reggie Jackson led the offense with 30 points and nine assists, and Andre Drummond was a monster down low with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Plus, the defense held Damian Lillard at bay — Lillard was only 8 of 22 from the field and 2 of 9 from deep. It wasn't just the stars for Detroit, the supporting cast was on point, too. Marcus Morris had 19 points, Tobias Harris added 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16 points. The Pistons would be out of the playoffs if the season ended today. Like the Rockets, they're going to need to find some consistency if they're going to make the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Play of the night
Giannis Antetokounmpo makes the court shrink. He simply gobbles up ground and then throws down dunks with such ease it's terrifying. Serge Ibaka is usually a good defender, but not on this day.