Lakers Beat Warriors in Preseason Opener

Darius Soriano —  October 5, 2013

The Lakers started out their preseason with a win against the Warriors, downing the Dubs 104-95. The game was choppy in areas — the Lakers scored the first 7 points of the game and immediately gave up a 15-0 run; they also had an awful offensive 3rd quarter where they couldn’t hit any outside shots — and there was clearly some stretches where the team missed having Nash or Gasol as outlets to run the offense through, but overall the team looked good in their first organized action of the year.

As for any takeaways, the one thing that stood out, at least from the team perspective, is that all the guys played hard and they really seemed to play for each other. Yes there were some defensive breakdowns. And there were also some moments where guys got too caught up in looking for their own offense. But, for the most part, every guy seemed to want to do the right thing and were getting after it in their pursuit of accomplishing their goals.

Guys cut hard. They hit the glass hard. They closed out on shooters and tried to make the second and third rotations when the Warriors moved the ball. It wasn’t always perfect and there were plenty of times where the action was sloppy and ugly. But it was the first real game action in months so some of that is to be expected. Overall, though, I was happy with the performance and I’d be saying that even if the team was on the wrong side of the final score. I’m happier that they weren’t, however. Especially after going winless last preseason.

Now, some notes:

*Xavier Henry was the big surprise, leading the team with 29 points while also grabbing 7 rebounds in 26 minutes. Henry did a little bit of everything offensively — he attacked the basket off the dribble, cut off the ball well, and even hit a couple of three pointers (including a half court heave to beat the 1st half buzzer). If one thing stood out, it was his activity and assertiveness in everything he did. Clearly he understands that he has a chance to make this team and he’s not going to waste it by not giving his all. In this game it led to a lot of success. We’ll see if that same success carries over into future games, but if he plays this hard he’ll likely continue to make some plays (even if it’s not as many as it was in this game).

*Jordan Farmar showed that in his time away from the team he really did mature as a player — especially offensively. He flashed very good feel for creating shots for teammates, throwing several good passes through small windows to guys on the move flashing into open space. He finished with 7 assists, but easily could have had a few more had guys caught the ball cleanly or been more attuned to how to finish when the defense collapsed on them. And while he didn’t hit any of his 3 three point attempts, he did make 4 of his 7 shots from two point range and also earned a couple of trips to the foul line. I also liked the way he ran the team, calling out the sets and organizing his teammates when he had to. Add in some good on-ball defense and I really liked what Farmar did in this game.

*The Nick Young experience is exactly as advertised. Young scored 17 points on 4-9 shooting (and 8-8 from the foul line). He flashed his ability to create shots both for better and for worse. There were times where he dazzled with a nice handle and shifty escape moves that ended with a made shot. Other times he simply created a bad shot off the dribble when moving the ball probably would have been the better option. One thing he did do was attack off the dribble when coming off picks and tried to get into the teeth of the defense. He earned those 8 FT attempts and if he can continue to do enough of that, he’ll have value all year long. So, all in all, Young entertained and showed that he can be a guy who gets buckets. Pretty much exactly who we thought he was.

*I was mostly pleased with Chris Kaman’s game. He showed that his mid-range shooting numbers from last season were not a fluke as he it several jumpers when both open and covered defensively. His final shooting numbers (4 for 12) really don’t tell how nice his shot looked when coming off his hand and he looks like he can be a nice weapon out of the pick and pop. He also led the team with 10 rebounds, mostly holding his own against an active Warriors’ front line. Kaman did get winded as the game progressed, but that’s to be expected considering he had a couple of long stretches of action and it’s the first game of the preseason.

*I don’t know if Robert Sacre will earn many minutes in the regular season, but he continued his solid play from the summer. He hit 4 of his 8 shots from the floor, mostly on mid-range jumpers out of pick and pops or when the ball swung his way. He was also active on D, sliding his feet well when defending the P&R and even picking up a charge when rotating against penetration. He still needs to do better work on the glass, but his limited athleticism will always mean he won’t be a great out of area rebounder. As long as he can keep his man from getting the ball, you can excuse lower board totals. In the aggregate, he was a positive tonight, though, and deserves some praise.

*No one else really stood out. Wes Johnson’s good week of practice didn’t carry over as he went 0-2 from the floor. He did, however, play some solid D even though he was a bit foul prone. It would be nice if his athleticism stood out a bit more, however. Shawne Williams couldn’t really find his outside shot, but he was serviceable on D and seemed to play within the flow of the game. Marcus Landry hit a big 3 pointer down the stretch that helped hold off a late Warriors’ surge and Elias Harris had a nice finish with a defender on his back while also catching a good lob (from Landry) out of a well designed out of bounds play. Both Landry and Harris didn’t get into the game until late, but did well when they did enter. Meeks and Blake both left off from what they were last year. Blake hustled on both ends and looked steady yet unspectacular while Meeks was streaky on O while working hard on D.

Darius Soriano

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24 responses to Lakers Beat Warriors in Preseason Opener

  1. great job lakers i have high hopes for this team

  2. I know its just the 1st game and its just one game, but Xavier Henry just embodies how we should play this year… effort, effort, effort!

  3. Rusty Shackleford October 6, 2013 at 6:49 am

    I didn’t get to watch the game but that stat line from Wes Johnson is pretty disappointing to see. If the team’s offense is anything like it was last year there should be a small handful of corner 3’s in this guy’s scope of work for every game. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, maybe when Steve Nash gets back he’ll get more of these looks.

    Just looking at the box score: both teams shot like crap, the Lakers got out-rebounded by 8 (15 offensive by GS), gave up 29 fast break points, committed 19 turnovers and gave up 48 points in the paint. All issues that haunted the team last year. And, in spite of all that, they won by 9; without their best three players even suited up. I know it’s just pre-season but I best the Mike Brown firing was a real eye opener for a lot of coaches in the league in how much value the put in their preseason records.

    It’s really too bad the Lakers didn’t want to invest in Earl Clark.

  4. Great Game: This game was a good start and at the very least prevented the media field day that would have ensued if we continued our pre-season losing streak. We can move forward without that issue. Excellent effort without our big names playing.

    mud: In my case – as I understand your expectations for the team, we are not that far apart. I think a lot depends on KB’s return date and status – given that I think we could range from 6 through 12 in the West (this is higher than the pundits who said – 12). As far as coming back after Magic’s announcement, yes we did, but it cost us an 8 year hiatus from the Finals (our record). If your point is that the Lakers will eventually be back, then I totally agree. But when : ) If we break our record – that is not a good thing.

    Aaron: You are supposed to be giving us weekly updates on the “pipedream”. What is Pat Riley’s real estate agent doing? Has LBJ’s posse been seen scoping out LA? If you want me and others to put all of our chips on this, then we need some encouragement : )

  5. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching a preseason game this much. What a great effort the team put out there! I don’t know what that was due to. Henry? D’Antoni? All the Lakers coming together because of great chemistry? Having something to prove? All of the above? I don’t know, but I liked it.

  6. Glad to see a preseason game, so that I can finally end my self-imposed exile. After the whole Howard FA fiasco this summer, I resolved that I would keep my mouth shut until some of these various pieces and parts at least started playing preseason games before spouting off as usual.

    –I agree with the comments about Johnson. He was a real disappointment at both ends last night. However, in fairness, he played quite a bit at the “4” last night, and that is simply unfair against a guy like David Lee. Hopefully MDA will take note and realize that, even in “smallball” situations, playing him at that spot is simply impossible because he is too slight of frame to stop anyone

    –Xavier Henry appears to have a lot of raw ability. He brings some serious athleticism to the table for a team that has been lacking in that department over the last few years. But Darius’ recap comment about guys looking for their own game a little too much definitely applied to Henry for pretty much the entire game. Whenever he got the ball, he was either going to huck it up, or attack the rim, regardless of the wisdom of either decision…

    –Anyone notice the FTA total for the Warriors last night? I think we will have to get used to that. RR’s warning about defense is probably well taken. This team is going to struggle to play “D” without fouling. The team committed fouls in bunches last night.

    –Ditto rebounding

    –Farmar, Kaman, and Young didn’t do anything to dampen the optimists’ spirits last night. In fact, all three of them were better than I thought they would be—although Nick Young was the human personal foul.

    –The team offense looked positively ragged for much of the game, even for a preseason game, but I’m going to withhold judgment on that considering Pau and Nash were out. Will be interested to see how those two play against the Nuggs, considering how much the announcing crew talked about how good those two guys have been feeling….

  7. I enjoyed the game as much as every other optimist. I had lusted for a Laker game, moreso with a Farmar sighting, and I just got one heck of a serving last night.

    I couldn’t or shouldn’t pick apart everything after one pre-season game. Moreso without the 3 main parts of our team. But man it was a fun game to watch simply because we had the passion to win the game, and we found a way to do it. Last season, it was just ugly. We just lost the game from the tip. We all waited for Howard to do something, we ended up leaving everything to Kobe. We have neither, and thus comes the guts.

    Jordan Hill, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks all particularly look out of whack. They are not themselves. After that quick 7-0 blitz, we were pretty much killed. That was a Warriors team that was not 100% and not hitting their shots.

    Again, just a qualification: I am not basing everything on this one game but it looks to me like Blake and Meeks are already looking for their next city. Farmar, Henry and the re-entry of Nash, integration of Kobe and Nick Young sticking to SG will be of benefit. I really like what Harris and Landry brought last night, them being on late-game situations was really smart.

  8. Defensive intensity was outstanding for this team especially given the fact that its preseason. Everyone looked engaged and it shows we don’t have any premier frontline shotblockers….ouch.

    Young is going to drive DAntoni crazy. If he had issues with nate robinsons shot selections he’s gonna have a field day with Young. And why is he fading back on every shot like karl malone? Seems like that affects his shot…

    Don’t want to overreact but I’m all for starting Henry at the 3. He looks like he has a mean streak, he’s aggressive, he can play defense and drive and he can shoot. Hopefully wes and young aren’t given these spots due to reputation

  9. *I just finished watching the Roxkets game… And it looks like the Lakers got very lucky or were very smart not securing Dwight to a max contract. He looks just as stiff and unexplosive as he did last year. I see Dwight being in the middle of the PER battle (10-14) at center as he was last year.
    *Henry looks legit. Nice body. He will be a nice PG/SG next to Lebron next year. Looks to be a legit 6-5 with a strong frame.
    *In other news Anthony Davis will be the best PF in the league by the end of the year or beginning of next year.

  10. Didn’t see the game, but I will be interested to see how the Henry thing plays out, and how it affects Meeks. I didn’t have Henry making the 12-man, but I would assume that is on the table now.If I am wrong about Henry and he develops suddenly, that would make me happy.

  11. LakerFanatic,

    I like your point about Xavier Henry. If he keeps playing this way (a big “if,” perhaps), then I think that MDA should give serious thought to starting him at the 3.

    But it’s still early. Before I become a believer, I’m going to want to see Henry play well 3 or 4 more times. It would be a shame if this game were your proverbial flash-in-the-pan.

    Meanwhile, I hope Wes Johnson and Jordan Hill play better this evening. They were both rather unassertive. But, as I said before…it’s still early in the season.

    By the way, in less than 9 minutes I thought Elias Harris looked good. Was I the only one who noticed?

  12. mindcrime,

    Wondered where you were.

    For myself, I am not going to say that much, except little observations like the one above, until after the first 11 games. Then I may spout off again.

  13. rr,
    You’ve mentioned the first 11 games multiple times and noted that we’ll learn something about the team, based off their record, because they play some very good teams (as well as other teams expected to complete for the playoffs) while without Kobe and Dwight.

    My question is, why would we learn much about this team respective to their record when they’re missing the guy most people view as the team’s best (and most important) player and without Howard against such good teams? This team’s fortunes rely a great deal on how good Kobe can be when he returns and how he integrates with the rest of the roster to form a solid team. Without him, we can learn a fair amount about how healthy Pau and Nash are, how capable some of the role players are when playing with Pau and Nash, and how hard the team competes. We can also learn more about what type of schemes the team will run on both sides of the ball.

    What we can’t learn is what this team’s ceiling is, how they truly match up with the rest of the league, or whether or not they can compete for a playoff spot when healthy. We can’t possibly know these things because Kobe is that important to the success of this team.

    I’m not sure if you disagree with this line of thought, but if you do, I’d love to know why.

  14. I think the lakers have bounced back really well from the Dwight howard fiasco. Picking up farmar, young, Johnson, and Kaman, as well as Xavier, and even the young players like landry, harris, odom, are very nice pieces. If kobe and Pau come back healthy, we have a very nice chance to sneak into 4th place. The beauty of dantoni’s system is that yes, the lakers will play less D, but that’s better for out vets, low maintenance, high win season, good seeding, with kobe and pau both able to command double teams down low, which is not something another team in the west can do, anything can happen in a 7 game series with 3 guys like nash kobe and pau and all that experience. I really have to say as a fan I’m excited. Nick Young, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, kobe, meeks, farmar, Johnson, Williams can all stroke the three, and we’ve picked up youth and athleticism and are going to surprise a lot of teams on defense as well when we want to. Then next year, we can sign two max free agents as kobe and pau take darling deals and dominate again.

  15. BUT if kobe is healthy. haha big disclaimer.

  16. Robert,
    Getting LBJ has only to do with how Wades knees look. If he looks like he did on the playoffs James is a lock to come to LA with two other stars. If his knees look good he is a lock to stay in Miami. So I won’t need to update you. You will see for yourself :-)

  17. Darius,

    I disagree with your last comment. I agree that we won’t know the ceiling of this team until Kobe is back on the lineup and 100% (if he ever gets back to being 100%). That much is obvious and I don’t think anyone can disagree. However, with Pau, Nash, and everyone playing hard on both hands of the floor and playing to their strengths and roles we can figure out if we’re a playoff team or not. The Rockets have made the playoffs with no superstars on their roster, so there’s no reason why a team without Kobe can’t do the same.

    Let’s wait for the regular season to start and we’ll know about that pretty quick (even if we end up losing a couple of games early on).

  18. I had thought rebounding on both ends would be a problem,so last night was no surprise. This along with the 3% allowed and taken is something to keep an eye on in Oct. The X Man looks like a good reserve, and liked the fact the team played hard if not always smart.

  19. rr–I had nothing to add that hadn’t been said over and over ad nauseum regarding the departure of D12 and the respective “ceiling” and “floor” of this team

  20. crime,

    Having nothing new to add has never stopped me. ;-)

  21. Darius,

    Most of the optimism has not been based on Kobe; it has been based on:

    1. Young, Farmar, Johnson, and now, presumably, Henry. See chris y’s post. Without Kobe, that group will probably all get more minutes, more shots, and more touches, so will see immediately what these guys are capable of.
    2. MDA having a full camp and having guys who fit his system, etc. Since Kobe obviously does not really fit his system as a ball-dominant half-court post-up player and since MDA’s defenders have said that he gets the most out of marginal guys offensively, this will be a test of that. Several posters have specifically said that they are looking forward to seeing MDA ball without Kobe. Nash also complained mildly about Kobe and the O in an off-season interview. Now Nash can run the show without him.
    3. Rambis coaching the D. By both the numbers and the eye test, Kobe was very often a liability on D last year. The D may actually be better without him, and if the D is going to be decent under Rambis’ coaching, that should show up early.
    4. Many people have said that Howard’s absence will be a plus for team chemistry; that he was a distraction, etc. and that the Lakers will be a team of guys playing with intensity and esprit de corps, trying to prove the world wrong. With Kobe out, and with the brutal early schedule, most observers will have the Lakers penciled in at about 3-8. They will have an immediate chance to prove the world wrong.
    5. Kobe won’t be there, but Pau and Nash will. They are also very important to determining this team’s floor and ceiling.

    The Lakers, again, play 5 of the top 6 contenders in the West over the first 11, missing only OKC. They also play four of the teams that are probably in the 6-12 group that Robert mentioned–Denver, Dallas, Minnesota, and New Orleans twice. The 11th game is against Atlanta. So, IMO, if the optimists are right, we will see some very definite signs of it over those first 11 games, with or without Kobe.

  22. rr,
    Fair enough, but I’d argue since that stretch is, in your words, “brutal” that a lot of those things can go well & the team still lose at the level in which the pundits predict.

  23. Darius,

    I agree in that I think if people are being realistic along with the optimism, I would not count on a particular number of wins above 3 in that stretch. But I would look for notable performance spikes, backed by some consistency, from some guys, staying competitive in games with contenders, and being able to beat DEN, NO, etc.

    If this is really a 47-50 win team with Kobe, it should be able to hold its own without him.

    Also, of course, we don’t know what Kobe’s return will mean; he is not 28 coming off an ankle sprain. So, if the team is 1-6, has gotten blown out a couple of times, and MDA is saying, “Wait until Kobe gets back”, then the Lakers are probably in trouble. But if they are 2-5, but Johnson, Henry and Farmar are doing well, and they have lost close ones to SA, HOU and LAC, then there may be some hope.