Year one for Luke Walton, Brandon Ingram and the rest of the Lakers’ new operation is officially in the past.
The purple and gold concluded their season with a 26-56 record — nine wins better than last — though it also ended with a 109-94 loss to Golden State.
“We wanted to come in here and start working with the group and build relationships and start working toward something special,” Walton said. “I think that we did that.”
In the final step of a season dedicated mainly to developing the team’s young talent, the Lakers saw their entire starting lineup score in double figures, led by 17 points by Jordan Clarkson.
Larry Nance Jr. added a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Brandon Ingram had a healthy stat line of 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals, though he also shot 5-of-16 from the field.
“I definitely think we learned a better way of winning ball games,” Ingram said of the season as a whole. “What it takes to win ball games and how we have how to be prepared each and every game just to get the best out of everybody.”
Despite entering the contest on a five-game win streak — their best in four years — the Lakers had trouble keeping up with the Warriors, who enter the postseason with a league-best 67-15 record.
Kevin Durant set the scene early by scoring 15 of his game-high 29 points in Golden State’s 43-point, first-quarter explosion.
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry added 20 points and eight assists on the night, as the Warriors hardly missed Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, who had the game off for rest.
Even when the Lakers clamped down, the game still seemed to break the Warriors’ way, particularly at the end of the first half. Rookie David Nwaba stifled Curry, who ariballed a 3-point attempt only for Patrick McCaw to snag it mid-air and throw down a highlight dunk.
The Lakers did eventually strike back when Golden State sat Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles used a 15-4 run to cut the Warriors’ once 27-point lead down to a dozen. But the Warriors quickly settled down for the win.
”In the fourth, it got fun again,” Walton said. “(Golden State) is the cream of the crop of the NBA. … In the fourth quarter we put a group out there that started flying around on defense and getting in passing lanes. And it got a lot of fun when that happened.”
The Lakers had a 62-42 advantage in points in the paint. … Golden State had 12 3-pointers to L.A.’s four. … A crowd of 19,596 sold out ORACLE Arena.