Los Angeles Lakers: Takeaways from Preseason Game 2
The Los Angeles Lakers took to the court in Honolulu, Hawaii for game two of the preseason, and their second in a row against the Utah Jazz.
With another sellout of 10,300 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center, the audience in attendance got to see a nice game, one that felt almost like a regular season game.
The Lakers eventually lost in overtime 117-114. Here are my takeaways:
Kobe Bean Bryant
After a long summer of questions as to what Kobe Bryant would be able to bring to this team this season, and only two days after a sub-par Lakers performance in the preseason opener that saw him go 1-5, Bryant made it clear very early in the second preseason game that he is still a viable threat when on the floor. Bryant came out extremely aggressive, scoring the first two Lakers points with a deep jumper.
Bryant only played twelve minutes in the opener, and Coach Scott mentioned before the game that he planned on using Bryant more in this game, to help Bryant establish a rhythm.
Bryant looked more comfortable on offense , shooting 5-9 from the field and 2-5 from three-point land to finish with 13 points in twenty minutes. He also finished with three assists, two of those coming off high screen and rolls with Bryant finding Roy Hibbert crashing hard to the basket for two dunks.
Bryant was all over the floor defensively, jumping into passing lanes and chasing defenders down, and at times it looked reckless. There were at least two times he went crashing to the floor attempting to get a steal. We love an active Kobe but an over activity Kobe could be a concern. But overall, I think the Black Mamba’s agenda in this game was to infuse some confidence into the Laker youth by leading by example and it seemingly worked as overall, everyone on the team played with an extra bit of swagger.
Roy Hibbert looked very good manning the middle and if this game was any indication of things to come this season for the Lakers then we could potentially see a return to all-star form for the 7-foot-2 center.
Hibbert scored 16 points (8-10 from the free throw line) and 11 rebounds, while logging 32 minutes of play. Although he didn’t block any shots, his presence alone was enough to make it difficult for Utah Jazz players in the paint.
Hibbert sat the bench in the whole overtime period, making way for Robert Sacre to get some run.
With all the talk about this team and its playoff (or non-playoff) hopes, anyone will agree that any chance the Lakers have at success this season largely hinges on the success of Julius Randle.
Randle looked rusty in summer league, and rightfully so. It was expected with lay off from live action. But it looks like all the work he has put in during last season and the summer is really starting to show on the court. Randle impressed with an array of moves from the low post, the wing and even in transition leading Bryant to refer to Randle as “Lamar Odom in Zach Randolph’s body”. Randle played 26 minutes, scoring 16 points on a solid 7-12 from the floor. He added five rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block.
I am not referring to Trevor Booker’s lame attempt at a punch in a scuffle he got into with Hibbert. The Lakers did take a punch early in the first quarter, going down by as much as 21 points before an 8-0 run helped cut the Jazz lead to 11 points by the end of the first quarter.
Metta World Peace only had seven points but his activity (four rebounds, two assists, four personal fouls) really changed the climate on the court and L.A. was able to catch Utah by halftime (49-48 Jazz).
If only we could delete this word from our vocabulary when discussing the Lakers. But when first round draft pick D’Angelo Russell fell out of the air while attempting to defend Rudy Gorbert at the rim, every Lakers fan including myself, held their collective breath. Russell suffered a bruised glute muscle and although he was physically able to come back, the coaching staff decided it best to keep Russell out for the remainder of the game.
Brandon Bass also had an injury scare of his own. He fell awkwardly on the baseline and banged his knee on the floor while attempting to save a ball from going out-of-bounds. Bass was helped up and he walked off the floor on his own recognizance.
The early injury to Russell forced Coach Scott to move Jordan Clarkson to the point guard spot, where he played the remainder of the starter position minutes. The offense flowed smoother with the second year guard at the helm, calmly setting up plays and being aggressive in spots.
Clarkson shot 5-10 from the field (12 points) and was 2-4 from three-point range.
The second quarter saw the combination of Clarkson, Lou Williams, Bryant, Randle and Hibbert. When Clarkson went to the bench, the Lakers went small with Williams being moved over to the point and rookie Anthony Brown got a few minutes in the two-guard slot. World Peace played small forward, Ryan Kelly at power forward, and Bass at center.
Coach Scott continued to experiment with substitutions. At one point in time, Nick Young was running point with Williams as the two-guard. He also put Nick Young in at the two-guard spot to start the second half.
Lou Williams again led all scorers with 20 points, though we was 4-13 from the field. Nick Young was also 4-13 for 13 points but both Williams and Young missed shots in the final moments of regulation and overtime that would have won or tied the game.
Tonight vs. Toronto Raptors
7:00pm @Citizens Business Bank Arena – Ontario, Ca.
Tayrance Allen covers the Los Angeles Lakers/ NBA for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter (@Twigganomics) and FaceBook/Instagram (@TwiggNATION)
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