The Los Angeles Lakers helped to send the Golden State Warriors to an early offseason last year, and now Steve Kerr is getting a small measure of payback.
After two straight seasons that ended short of the playoffs — including last year, when the Warriors lost to the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies to be eliminated from the play-in tournament — Kerr has led Golden State to a bounce-back year. The Warriors are currently third in the Western Conference with two games remaining, while LeBron James and the Lakers have already been eliminated from playoff contention.
As the two teams prepared to meet this week, Kerr took a chance to twist the knife a bit.
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Kerr Trolls Lakers
Appearing on 95.7 The Game’s “Steiny & Guru” this week, Kerr was asked about whether guard Jordan Poole could be in the starting lineup for the playoffs. He has filled in while Steph Curry has been nursing an injured foot, but Curry’s return could push Poole back to the bench.
In laying out the plans for the playoffs, Kerr couldn’t help but get a dig in on the Lakers.
“It’s a possibility,” Kerr said. “We gotta see where Steph is. I like that (Curry, Poole and Klay Thompson together), but you know when you get in the playoffs and you need to guard, name it, Paul George or LeBron, well, not this year. Sorry, I didn’t mean that, just a subtle jab.”
The Warriors enjoyed a strong year against the Lakers, winning three of their four meetings including an opening-night win that set the tone for the season in Golden State.
Warriors Defeat Lakers, Roll Into Playoffs
Kerr and the Warriors added injury to insult after his subtle jab, beating the LeBron-less Lakers 128-112 on April 7. It was the third straight win for the Warriors, a stretch in which they clinched a playoff spot and secured home-court advantage in the first round.
Kerr said he saw many positive signs in the win, including the 33 points from Klay Thompson.
“I thought it was Klay’s best game,” Kerr said. “I know he’s scored more but just in terms of the shot selection, he just had his feet on the ground underneath him, his balance was great, his decision-making was really good. So a lot of good things happening.”
The Warriors coach also had plenty of praise for Poole, who had a career-high 11 assists to go along with his 19 points. Kerr added another vote of confidence for Poole, noting how well he has slid into the starting lineup when Curry and Thompson have been sidelined.
“Jordan’s been amazing. He’s had a fantastic season,” Kerr said. “He’s filled in for both Klay and Steph when they’ve been injured. He’s done anything we’ve asked him to do.”
While the Warriors are rolling toward the playoffs, the Lakers are falling apart as the season concludes. The loss to the Warriors was their eighth straight, and they will have to finish the final two games of the season without James, who has been shut down as he’s healing from an ankle injury.