After all the time Kobe has spent playing basketball in Vegas the last couple of summers with Team USA, will that give him a home court advantage tonight?
Whatever Kobe does, what I think we’re all looking for is growth, improvement, signs of thing gelling together. As this is the third game for the Lakers, I think we have an idea of the three things we’re hoping to see:
1) Improved defense, particularly transition defense. Also, just better recognition and rotation in half court defensive sets.
2) Lamar Odom, does he start to find his way in some role in the offense, particularly when Gasol and Bynum are on the floor. And, in this same vein, does Trevor Ariza continue to make a case to be a starter with his hustle. (That said, at some point he needs to hit those outside shots he’s been getting.)
3) How do Bynum and Gasol look together? There were signs of potential last game, but they became frustrated ones. I think a play broken down by bchamp in the comments summed up what happened well.
In the 1st quarter the Lakers got into the corner series of the triangle where Kobe had the ball in the right corner and Bynum stepped over from the block to set a high side screen. As Bynum rolled along the baseline his defender switched over to double Kobe, who then found Gasol flashing to the high post. With the rotated defender trying to pick which poison he wanted to defend Gasol passed to a wide open Bynum underneath the rim. Unfortunately, it was a bad pass and ended up in a turnover but the right idea nonetheless.
As for the Kings, Tom Ziller from Sactown Royalty (and everywhere else) said that the mantra this preseason for the Kings is ball movement (which is why coach Reggie Theus hinted about the triangle, although he has backed off that statement). The Kings offense had little movement the last couple years, and having Artest breaking out of called plays all the time wasn’t helping. Ziller said the ball movement has been spotty so far, we’ll see how it goes tonight.
And while preseason wins are meaningless, I’d still like to see one.