The Golden State Warriors have gloriously announced their re-entry into the championship race by taking down the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at Staples Center, 121-114.

Led by Stephen Curry‘s triple-double and Jordan Poole‘s surprising 20-point outburst proved to the world that the Warriors are ready to start winning on the NBA’s biggest stage yet again.

The Lakers, on the other hand, got a whopping 67 combined points out of LeBron James and Anthony Davis but only a measly 47 combined points from the rest of the roster. The Lakers still have a long way to go before they figure out how to make the most of the complete team; meanwhile, the Warriors can only become stronger once Klay Thompson eventually returns.

One of the problems that caused the Lakers to lose against the Warriors was the lack of assists from star player Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, who led the NBA in assists in three of the past four seasons, had only four against the Warriors. Not all of that is on him, some early ball-watching was to be expected when playing with the starters. Westbrook wasn’t in a position to succeed as a playmaker that night, but he didn’t do himself any favors either. Westbrook is so used to dominating possession of the ball that he hasn’t learned how to effectively and consistently move without it.

But on the bright side, for the 19th consecutive season, James is one of the very best players in basketball. With a compromised supporting cast, James still managed to put up 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting with 11 rebounds and five assists. His defense remains near perfect, and that could be easily seen on his off-the-ball defense.

It is only the first game of the season, and the shooting likely isn’t sustainable (James only scored once in the restricted area), but there is reason to believe that the Lakers still have a version of James that is relatively close to the one they had when they won the 2020 championship.

The Lakers have six months to figure everything out, but as long as James continues to excel on the court, they should be considered serious contenders.

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