Lakers vs. Nuggets: Preseason Chat

Darius Soriano —  October 6, 2013

After beating the Warriors in their preseason opener, the Lakers are back in action tonight in a match up with the Denver Nuggets. And much like that first game against the Warriors, this game isn’t one in which we should get too caught up in the final outcome. Yes it was nice to get a win, but what was nicer was the way the team competed on both ends of the floor and found ways to keep the game close — and ultimately pull away — even without Nash and Gasol playing and while going through some severe stretches of up and down play. Game one showed good resiliency and a commitment to playing together. More of that tonight will be welcomed, regardless of the outcome.

What will also be welcomed is the return of Nash and Pau to the lineup after sitting out last night’s game. Both the Canadian and the Spaniard will return to the lineup as starters and both are expected to play somewhere around 20-25 minutes. How this affects personnel groupings, players’ minutes, and substitution patterns remains to be seen, but considering there’s a lot of moving parts and the fact that the coaches still want to see what nearly every player on the team can provide, I can only assume we’ll see many different lineup combinations with minutes being cut to specific players (especially with Farmar and Kaman) as the coaches tinker with groupings.

On that note, here’s a handful of things I’ll be looking for tonight:

*What will the offense look like? Besides some heavy usage late in the game when Farmar was running the point, the Lakers didn’t utilize the pick and roll all that often. It popped up, for sure, but the team used more motion based sets that saw the offense begin with a ball reversal through a trailing big man (usually the one who rebounded the ball) with him then either swinging the ball to the opposite wing or holding the ball high and utilizing a hand-off to initiate the set. With Nash back in the fold, I’d imagine we’d see more P&R’s, but don’t be surprised if we still see the motion based sets the team utilized last night. It’s early still, but it looks like the coaches want to run a mix of motion sets, P&R’s, and HORNS based actions for the offensive scheme so fine tuning the motion style offense is probably an important part of this preseason.

*Will the effort level remain the same? Towards the end of the game, nearly every Laker looked a little bit winded — even the more athletic players like Farmar and Henry. There’s no rest for the weary, though, as they’re right back at it tonight. Will the guys still have the energy to make those 2nd and 3rd effort plays on defense? Will the back side wings hit the glass with the same enthusiasm? Will the bigs slide their feet as well when hedging and recovering in the P&R? Every player looked to be in good shape last night, but that doesn’t mean they’re not playing the second time in the first two nights of the season. I’d forgive them if they didn’t have their full legs.

*How much will Pau and Kaman play together? Last night Jordan Hill didn’t look that great when playing outside the paint offensively. He shot his jumper with confidence and in rhythm, but that didn’t lead to any makes. Meanwhile, Kaman shot a poor percentage, but his jumper looked smooth every time it came off his hand. Now is the time to experiment with a dual C lineup to see how it can mesh on both ends of the floor and I anticipate D’Antoni will try out Kaman and Pau for stretches. The key will be ensuring that whoever is playing low actually gets some touches down on the block and that the bigs don’t just settle for jumpers when they are open on the perimeter (because they will be open). And then, of course, there’s the defense. The Nuggets aren’t going to be the same caliber of team they were last season, but they still have one of the more athletic front court duos in the league in JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried. They also have a speedy attack-style point guard in Ty Lawson who wants to get into the paint out of the P&R. If the Lakers start Pau and Kaman, I’ll be very interested in seeing if they can control the defensive glass and not get torched in the P&R.

*Will anyone surprise? Last night Xavier Henry endeared himself to Lakers’ fans with his 29 points and hustle. I don’t expect a repeat performance from him (it would be nice, though) but I do wonder if anyone else will have a breakout game. Shawne Williams, Marcus Landry, Elias Harris, et al all have a chance to make this team. They all have nice skill sets and they all have the ability to make plays in their own ways. Last night Henry took a pretty large step in making the team by showing his potential on both sides of the ball. A similar performance from one of the other fringe players could do the same for them. The question is if any one of them will provide it.

Darius Soriano

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32 responses to Lakers vs. Nuggets: Preseason Chat

  1. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t Elias Harris’ contract already guaranteed?

  2. I also heard Kaman will be sitting out tonight’s game as Coach D’antoni wants to rest his veterans and offer more non guaranteed players and younger players playing time to showcase their talents.

  3. John,
    Harris and Williams have partial guarantees (100K) on their contracts.

  4. Looks like the game is at 6:30pdt, on TWCSN.

  5. sT–It is also on outside the LAL area on NBATV…

    This team is going to have rough stretches, but for a second night in a row there is a noticable uptick in athleticism on this team this year. Johnson looks much better tonight.

    Still can’t defend without fouling…

    For everyone who thinks Kobe is a shameless “gunner….” You will finally see what a real “gunner” looks like this year. Nick Young has zero conscience and, so far, I haven’t seen him even think about giving the ball back to a teammate. He’s going to be a handful for the opponent and his own team.

  6. Nick Young who has Orlando Woolridge’s number 0 will have the most no no no yes moments for the Lakers. Any dimes he gets in a game will be a plus.

  7. Glove–Any dime he gets may be an accident….

  8. Nash seems a bit quicker than he was last year. Hopefully his leg is completely healed and that time off helped his back, as well.

  9. Why is farmar wearing suits?

  10. That is so typically Pau Gasol. WIde open 8 footer if he takes it, but passes it out to Nash instead. He’s gotta take that shot.

  11. Finally getting a look at the team. I cant help but think that once totally healthy this team is going to “need to be deal with” night in night out, Nash is doing those beautiful passes that are going to help tremendously the offensive flow, Pau looks great, healthy and rested, and our bench can be pretty good.So far our D is not on the horrendous category yet jury still out on that. Im not talking a chip or anything but this team could be very good if healthy.

  12. Farmar received some tweaks (strains) to his limbs, I heard from yesterday’s game. They are not taking any chances of aggravating anything this pre-season, hence, he is not playing in tonights game.

  13. Does anyone else hate the fact that the offense is designed so that we have guys like pau, hill and sacre taking 18 foot jump shots out of the PnR – maybe that worked when you had Amare in pheonix at his prime but I really don’t see this working long term for the team.

    Hill not looking good through 2 games – it looks like our 2/3 while Kobe is out and our starting 4 is completely open – I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawne Williams started for us at the 4.

    I’m really liking what Sacre is bringing – strong post defense and he keeps within his game on offense.

  14. Wow, 25% shooting from the Lakers so far tonight, this has to get better.

  15. This is a game where fans really hate Young. There is nothing he is doing that is right and it is infectious. Also, I really hate that the ball never goes through our big men down low. It seems the only shots we can take are jumpshots. That would seem more like playground basketball.

    I couldn’t take it any more so I came here to vent.

  16. Meh – looking like the same confusion as last year.

    I think Pau needs Kobe to be able to do his thing

  17. Turnovers look like a problem that will never go away. It doesn’t matter how good the defense is if you’re giving opponents free possessions.

  18. “Does anyone else hate the fact that the offense is designed so that we have guys like pau, hill and sacre taking 18 foot jump shots out of the PnR…”

    Count me in that group. But that is D’Antoni. That is what he wants to run. Too bad Pau, Hill, Kaman, and Sacre aren’t buit to run it.

  19. I commented on SSR a couple of days ago that I won’t be surprised if Shawne Williams is the opening night 4, and I see someone here said the same thing.

    I just don’t think Hill and D’Antoni mix.

  20. I just don’t think DEFENSE and D’Antoni mix.

  21. Hill doesnt look like the same athlete

  22. No recap tonight, folks. Sorry.

  23. Aaron-

    Maybe. We tend to forget that Hill also had major injury issues last year.

  24. defense wasn’t bad at all.
    shooting was terrible and a few players tried to push the issue. Denver is a high powered team that has everyone on the same page, this was a good preseason game.

  25. “For everyone who thinks Kobe is a shameless “gunner….” You will finally see what a real “gunner” looks like this year. Nick Young has zero conscience and, so far, I haven’t seen him even think about giving the ball back to a teammate.”

    that was a funny quote, and so true. Nick’s a shameless gunner, but he’s our shameless gunner. the Lakers needed a guy like him, especially this year. i saw him pass a couple of times, in truth, and at least one of those passes was pretty nifty. :^)
    he’s here to chuck, expect it. he seems to be making a serious effort to play a more complete game, though. i think he’s doing his best to play like they ask him to.

  26. Tonight was a clearcut lousy game. Denver didn’t even do much for them to win, they played an ugly game themselves.

    This is what we should get used to though, a loss after a win, or vice versa will be a 41-win team. I guess you can win a couple more cant-lose ones and it gets to 50. Everyone looked pretty stiff tonight.

  27. Aaron–I agree…Hill seems to be just a half-step slow this year. I’m hoping it’s the layoff and the fact that it’s preseason ball…but his energy level hasn’t LOOKED the same, even if it IS the same.

    OTOH, part of the reason that Williams has looked better than Hill at times, at least on offense, is probably that MDA’s scheme at least seems to be more-suited to Williams’ skillset. And Williams has a pretty rounded offensive skillset. For a “big” guy he handles and shoots pretty well.

    I’m not reading much into this one. Second night of a BTB, in the PRESEASON, with no Farmar, no Kaman, and no Kobe. Tough to really analyze anything yet.

  28. rr,
    Yes…that’s why he isn’t the same. No doubt. Back injuries are tricky… Even without surgery. Always sad to see players lose a step. Friend or foe.

  29. Hill’s stock value on the forums has been way way too high for a while as a PF. Play him as a small ball center and the Lakers are golden. Ask him to be something hes not and it just won’t be pretty. I said Kelly would be our PF before the Lakers got Williams and then said Williams when the Lakers acquired him. I will stick with that assessment.

    The real surprise has been Henry. So far he is on his way to earning a spot on the roster. I would like johnson-odom to get a better look. An unbelievable athlete.

  30. Bigs: Hill is not the same. He said in an interview that his hip wasn’t ever going to be the same but that he thought he’d be able to be very effective. He isn’t jumping as quickly, particularly his second or third jump. For a guy who makes his living by being very active, this isn’t good. (I wish there was a way they could of kept Earl Clark.) Hope he improves after his long rehab.

    Stretch Four: Marcus Landry is a D league player–so is Elias Harris who in limited minutes has shown absolutely nothing. Neither guy should be on the final roster. Shawne Williams again showed that he is an NBA player. The run down, block from behind was the play of the game and he flashed his long-range stroke as well.

    Wings: Right now Xavier Henry’s combination of strength, size, handles, shooting and physical toughness put him at the top of the group in terms of upside. Wesley Johnson unfortunately left with a sprained foot but as others have noted, he hasn’t impressed. Ridiculous length, but may not have the ballast necessary for anything put perimeter play. Absurd to play him as at four . . .

    Nothing to say about the pgs.

  31. I agree shaun…I was gonna post that myself…if teams are going to concede 18 footers from our bigs its gonna be a long season . ..

    nash had good passes but I’d love to see him be more of a threat offensively…sometimes he is trying too hard to make everyone happy…bring them up to your level of play…

    nick young. I feel like if I said he had a bad “game” I’d be letting him off the hook. wow…I see him being in the dantoni doghouse very soon…

    I’m hoping williams and henry get those starting forward spots. .aggressive…versatile. .and can play defense and stretch the floor.