The Los Angeles Lakers getting off to a quick start was not unexpected. The Golden State Warriors doing so is more surprising, but keeping it going will be tough without Stephen Curry and against the reigning champions.
Both clubs will be trying to improve to 3-0 on Sunday when the Lakers look to resume their domination of the Warriors by winning their 10th straight in the series.
After rallying from a 15-point deficit to defeat Houston in its season opener, Los Angeles held off Phoenix's attempt to come back Friday and won 114-106 in a rematch of last season's Western Conference finals.
It was another strong game by Lakers big men Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Gasol had 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds while Odom added 18 points, 17 boards and five assists. Both had double-doubles in the opener.
"You know down low we have an advantage against teams," Odom said. "If not, we use our quickness and our shooting. We've got guys that like to score, pass, make plays; we just like playing ball. A lot of our guys are experienced and they're ready to help us right away."
Odom averaged 12.8 rebounds in last season's four-game sweep of the Warriors. Kobe Bryant played three of those matchups, averaging 31.0 points, and the Lakers scored 120.5 per game in the season series.
Los Angeles has scored at least 114 points eight times during its nine-game winning streak over Golden State, dating back to March 23, 2008.
If that run reaches 10, the Lakers will be 3-0 for the third time in five years.
The Warriors haven't won their first three since 1994-95, but they'll have a hard time achieving that feat with Curry unavailable. Last season's Rookie of the Year runner-up re-injured his right ankle in Friday's 109-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Curry rolled his right foot while trying to get around a pick, injuring the same ankle he hurt in the preseason and aggravated in the season opener.
"It's more rehab, that's all that means," said Curry, who had 16 points. "Just got to be smart about it now and try to get it back to 100 percent and get it stronger so that even if I do step on somebody's foot I can recover."
With Curry out, more scoring pressure will be on Monta Ellis, who finished with 15 points and 11 assists against the Clippers after tying a career high with 46 points in a season-opening win over Houston. Ellis averaged 17.7 points in three games against the Lakers last season - almost eight fewer than his 2009-10 average.
The Warriors gave up a league-worst 112.4 points per game last season en route to their lowest win total (26) in eight years, but they're coming off an encouraging defensive performance. They held the Clippers to 38.6 percent from the field and 13 points in the third quarter.
"We keep wanting to preach (the defensive) side of the ball," first-year coach Keith Smart said. "But we're not so much looking at holding a team under 100 points, some nights you just can't do it. But can we make them shoot a different percentage."
Golden State let teams shoot a conference-worst 48.5 percent last season.
The Associated Press News Service
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