Earlier today, the Lakers took on the European League champion FC Barcelona and lost the 92-88 decision in Spain. While Phil Jackson did put his starters on the floor to end the game, I do not believe the loss requires any cause for concern. Instead of a full on recap of the game, here are a few thoughts on some of the things I noticed from the Lakers second preseason game.
- Pau Gasol played a fairly good game. There were times throughout the game where it seemed like he wasn’t fully comfortable playing as the team’s center. Spain had multiple big bodies they were able to throw at Gasol, actually giving the Lakers a taste of their own medicine. Both Kosta Perovic and Boniface N’Dong are listed as seven footers and spent a considerable amount of time making Gasol’s job difficult and keeping other Lakers out of the paint. With a lot of NBA teams getting bigger this off season, Pau may find himself in situations where he’s going to have to assert himself as the dominant big man on the floor. He recorded a 25 and 10 double-double, but never seemed to be the Pau Gasol we were accustomed to down the stretch of last season. Then again, it is only the second preseason game of this season.
- A lot of attention is going to be paid attention to Kobe’s 2-15 shooting performance and there really shouldn’t be. This is his second actual game time action following a knee surgery and his first game playing some real minutes. Kobe was essentially out there playing on one leg, no explosiveness and no lift on his jump shot. A large majority of his shots were off balanced, fade aways and turn around jumpers. Pete Mickeal, sans one play where he got caught in the air by a Kobe pump fake, did a fantastic job of staying home on Kobe and forcing tough jump shots. Without his ability to get off the ground or get to the rim, all of the footwork in the world wasn’t going to help him get easier shots.
- Lamar Odom looked very good against FC Barcelona. We got to see a lot of his unique repertoire during the course of the game: 18 rebounds, nine in each half; a beautiful coast-to-coast layup; a couple of assists; a monstrous tip dunk — and he stayed away from taking bad shots behind the arch. We know he isn’t always going to have an all around game like this every night, but with the absence of Andrew Bynum for the early part of the season, if LO can just rebound at a high rate, that will go a long way for the Lakers early on.
- Steve Blake, as commenter Namotuman noted during the Preview and Chat of the Timberwolves game, does seem to have a very good connection with Lamar Odom. Watching him, you can tell that he has picked up the nuances of the Triangle, but he doesn’t always seem comfortable playing off of the ball. Blake is more of a natural point guard than what Derek Fisher is at this point in his career, and is used to having responsibilities like bringing the ball up and creating from the top of the key. Within the triangle, he has to play off of the ball more that what a point guard would in other offenses. I’m confident that he’ll be able to pick up the offense and still be affective off of the ball.
- Lastly, I really enjoyed getting a chance to watch this Barcelona squad play. Their ball movement is already in mid-season form and they execute their offense as well as anyone in the NBA does. I became an absolutely huge Juan Carlos Navarro fan during his one year in the NBA and feel it’s a privilege every time I get to watch him in the international game. Even though it was sloppy at times, the game was fun to watch and I enjoyed the competitive nature of this particular exhibition game.