Lakers First Look: Team gets a victory in first preseason game
The Los Angeles Lakers entered a new era when they kicked off their preseason at the Honda Center in Anaheim against the visiting Sacramento Kings.
Obviously Kobe Bryant, for the first time in twenty years, is not on the roster. But new faces, mixed with a few familiar ones, bring confidence and a renewed sense of purpose to the struggling franchise.
Gone is an NBA legend, and what some called an outdated coaching style. In is the new, young talented mind of head coach Luke Walton. He is anchored by assistant Brian Shaw, and both ex-Lakers who won championships in their time in L.A. as players.
Coach Walton has preached defense to his players since training camp began and Tuesday night was a barometer for the team to see where they were at in the learning process.
The Lakers starting line up, for the most part, was as expected: Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. But Lou Williams got the start at shooting guard and Jordan Clarkson was relegated to coming off the bench, although Coach Walton assured everyone that we wanted to experiment with different line ups and that nothing is set in stone yet.
The Lakers came out a little jittery in the first quarter, turning the ball over seven times. Randle looked a bit anxious, fumbling the ball on few routine pass plays. The Lakers went down 8-0 before Randle sank a 20′ jumper.
The Lakers starting line up got off to a very slow start but managed to keep the game close in the first quarter, showing glimpses of the kind of basketball that they are aiming to play. Being unselfish and working the basketball around for the best shot. Jordan Clarkson, once inserted into the game, almost played like he was trying to prove himself again, knocking down a three pointer and being part of two great alley oop plays. One, as the recipient of a pass from Marcelo Huertas. The other, him under-handing a sweet pass to Tarik Black for a monster two hand slam.
The Lakers had quite a few communication break downs in the first half and that’s to be expected. And after a 10-3 run to cut Sacramento’s lead to one, the Kings closed out the first half with a 13-0 run, taking the lead to half time.
Second half, the Lakers out scored the Kings 64-32 and even though the Kings didn’t play their starters for most of the half, it still was an impressive showing by the Lakers reserves. Down by 19 points at one time, Tarik Black sparked the comeback on both ends of the floor. He went 5-5 from the field including back to back And 1’s where he completed the lay up after taking contact. The Lakers won 103-84 to start the preseason 1-0.
Lou Williams was his normal “drawing fouls out of thin air”-self, going 11-12 from the foul line as he repeatedly baited Kings players to reach as he got his shot up. He and Black led the Lakers scorers with 15 points each.
Clarkson provided 12 points off the bench and newcomer Thomas Robinson played some great minutes late in the game, going 3-3 and grabbing 7 rebounds in the process. The Lakers had seven blocks and also scored 42 points in the paint.
Coach Walton said after the game that he was happy to get this first game under their belt so that they could go back and look at the film, to see what the players did well and what they need to work on. He also said that the team would continue to work on defense as their primary focus.
Laker rookie Brandon Ingram shot 0-5 and had two points but Walton liked what he saw on defense:
“Offense will come but I liked what I saw on the defensive end with his energy, blocks, deflections, and playing with length. I was very impressed with what I saw.”
The Lakers next preseason game is this Friday when they face the Denver Nuggets at 730pm PST at Staples Center.
Tayrance Allen covers the Lakers/ NBA for MFST! You can follow him on Twitter @Twigganomics
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