Programming note: Coverage of Warriors-Nuggets begins Monday night at 5:30 on CSN Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live.
OAKLAND – The lesson to be learned in the Warriors' 102-83 shellacking of a horrible representation of Lakers on Saturday night is not new but evidently must be repeated for emphasis.
These Warriors, even with their glorious shooters, are distinctly mediocre unless they play strong and ferocious defense, with an edge.
Because they did what they needed to, the Warriors spared themselves the embarrassment of a close game, and perhaps a defeat, against one of the worst Lakers teams to take the court in many years.
The Warriors knew they wouldn't face star guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, both out indefinitely, and also were aware that neither Steve Blake nor Jordan Farmar would be able to play. Shortly before tipoff, the Warriors were given yet another gift, with center/forward Pau Gasol being sidelined.
"It didn't change us overall," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of facing a collection of Lakers culled from the far end of the bench. "Our mindset is defense, and that has to be consistent no matter who is in uniform."
That goes double – or at least ought to – after the Warriors gulped down a loss to an inglorious bunch of Spurs on Thursday night at Oracle. That game surely punctured the pride. And pride, after all, is the essence of defensive intensity.
So they regained a piece of themselves that was lost a couple days earlier.
"We showed up defensively," guard Stephen Curry said. "We didn't make any shots in the first half, but we found a way to have a lead because we made them take tough jump shots. Our offense is going to come and go. If we can show up defensively, force them into spots that we want them, make it tough and be physical, with energy, we'll be fine."
Understand, though, this was a horrendous group of Lakers. Starting forward Wesley Johnson missed every shot he took from the field, seven in all. Starting center Chris Kaman missed 12 of his 17 shots. Starting guards Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry combined for 6-of-20 shooting. And, of course, the irrepressible Nick Young fired up 18 shots, missing all but five.
The Lakers scored a total of 31 points in the second and third quarters. Much of that was the result of bad Lakers offense. But some of it was terrific Warriors defense.
"We played good defense and when you do that against a free-flowing team like that, it doesn't put as much pressure on our offense," center Andrew Bogut said. "We didn't have to make a play or score every possession."
Indeed, defense – which help generated 24 Lakers turnovers, is what allowed the Warriors to win big despite shooting only 39 percent. Nine Warriors took at least two shots and only one, Marreese Speights, made more than 50 percent.
"We made multiple-effort plays, disrupted what they were doing, communicated on defense and then limited them to one shot – all the things that made us a dangerous team by all preseason analysts and experts," Jackson said. "We need to have a steady diet of that."
THE GOOD: With 10 points, three rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal, Speights provided energy and production off the bench. Bogut, with 20 rebounds in 28 minutes, owned the glass. Also impressive was the junkyard-dog defense in the third quarter, spurring a rally.
THE BAD: The shooting in general, particularly the continued struggles of Klay Thompson (17 points on 5 of 15) and Harrison Barnes (8 points, 3 of 7). The Warriors are too good to spend a half at the same level as this Lakers team.
THE TAKE: The Warriors easily won a game they should have won easily. That's what good teams do, almost every time. They absolutely must acknowledge that this should have been a tip-to-buzzer victory and that defense is the only way to rise above the competitive quicksand they often seem to find.