BY STEVE DILBECK
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Stephen Curry was having an off night. By the time the fourth quarter ended, he had hit only six of 17 shots — and three of those misses were air balls.
But when the game went into overtime, the two-time MVP showed again what makes him the NBA’s best shooter.
Curry hit two 3-pointers to open the extra period and the Warriors outlasted the pesky Los Angeles Lakers 127-123 on Wednesday.
“Obviously, he had a horrible start to the game, but what makes Steph, Steph, is on a night like tonight he can still make huge plays,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“It takes a special player to bounce back within the same game and be able to reverse that, and that’s what he did.”
Curry scored 28 points, 13 in overtime. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 29 points and Klay Thompson added 20 as Golden State avoided losing consecutive games for the first time this season.
The Lakers got a career-high 32 points from Brandon Ingram to push the defending champs into overtime. He and Durant dueled back-and-forth all night.
It was the first meeting of the season between the division foes, also making it the first matchup between Curry and Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.
Ball finished with 15 points and a game-high 10 assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson added 21 points each for the Lakers, with Julius Randle scoring 20.
“I love the way our guys competed defensively,” Los Angeles coach Luke Walton said. “We set a challenge for them — let’s be aggressive but smart. The Warriors are struggling with turnovers so far this year, so we wanted to use that to our advantage.”
Golden State turned the ball over 22 times.
“Tonight was absolutely galling,” Kerr said. “There were some mind-boggling plays out there, and I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve got to be able to take better care of the ball and make better decisions.”
It helps when you have Curry, who despite struggling almost all night, can quickly step up when needed.
“It comes from experience and knowing how to deal with bad shooting nights, and stick with it,” he said. “Obviously, it happened. You try to play smarter and get yourself into a rhythm.”
Warriors: Kerr said he’s not currently concerned about the team’s occasionally passive play: “I think going to the Finals three years in a row and then trying to do it again a fourth time, you’re just naturally not going to have quite as much of that killer instinct. It’s just human nature. I know it’s in there, so I’m not worried. It’s still November. If this were happening in March, I’d be pretty concerned. But I understand what we’re dealing with and going through. I went through this as a player in Chicago and understand it’s a long race.”
Lakers: F Kyle Kuzma experienced back spasms during warmups and did not play. … Walton said he wasn’t overly concerned by the team’s tepid start: “We’re a lot further ahead right now than we were last year. And I anticipate with the players we have and the way they work, we’ll be further ahead next year.”
After scoring five consecutive points in the third quarter, Ball was in a scrape on the floor for a loose ball when his head slammed against the court. It opened up a small cut above his left eye. The Lakers closed it with a Steri-Strip and Ball returned to the game.
Los Angeles had a chance to win at the end of regulation when Randle rebounded Durant’s miss with 5.3 seconds to play. The Lakers set up a play for Ingram, but he missed a driving 8-footer.
Despite the Lakers’ 8-13 record, Kerr sees positives in their rebuilding effort.
“The talent level has gone way up and their guys are getting better,” he said. “They were impressive tonight.”
Warriors: Play the second of six consecutive road games Friday in Orlando. Golden State has won its last nine against the Magic.
Lakers: Travel to Denver to face the Nuggets on Saturday. Los Angeles beat the Nuggets 127-109 at home on Nov. 19, its second-largest margin of victory this season.
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