Archives For Game Preview

The Lakers enter Saturday’s game against the Warriors 1-4 in the preseason, their only win against the only non-NBA team they’ve faced when they easily handled Israel’s Maccabi Haifa. They come into the game down Kobe Byrant, but up Marcelo Huertas who will likely make his preseason debut. The team has mixed in some good, new play with some bad, old habits. They’ve also been pretty fun, even in defeat.

The bigger question I have about facing the reigning world champs isn’t whether the Lakers can win, but what the lineups will look like. Byron Scott has been non-committal about D’Angelo Russell starting since the rookie injured himself in the team’s 2nd exhibition game. After a bit of a surprise return the lineup, Russell was a reserve. The next game, his coming off the bench was deliberate. Tonight? It’s an unknown what his place will be, but Byron wants the rookie to “not worry about his role” and just “play ball”.

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No longer winless in the preseason, the Lakers are back in action Tuesday night against the Kings in…Las Vegas. After getting in a Monday practice, the team jetted off to Sin City and will face a team who, just like them, is looking to make a strong move forward and out of the western conference basement.

The Kings are an interesting lot where thousands of words could be spilled about them and not sufficiently cover all that’s occurred in the past season plus. What’s important heading into this game is that they have, essentially, reconstructed their roster in the hopes of fulfilling the promise they showed last year before DeMarcus Cousins was diagnosed with viral meningitis (which triggered a losing streak and, ultimately, the firing of then head coach Mike Malone).

To add to their core of Cousins, Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, and Ben McLemore the Kings went wild in free agency adding Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Carol Butler, and Quincy Acy. In the draft, they landed Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein. What we have, then, is an entire new rotation of players the FO hopes can lead a push towards the 8th seed. That’s probably overly optimistic, but, if nothing else, the combination of George Karl and this roster of headstrong and eccentric personalities should lead to some exciting play and some potential locker room fireworks.

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After losing to the Raptors in their third exhibition game on Thursday, the Lakers got their first day off of the preseason on Friday. Saturday led to a light practice session and we learned that D’Angelo Russell and Marcelo Huertas are close to returning, but Byron Scott called them doubtful for today’s game — though he did leave the door open they could return.

If they do take the floor, it won’t be an NBA team they return against, but Israel’s Maccabi Haifa. The Israeli team is stateside playing exhibitions against NBA opponents, including a game against the Grizzlies this past week:

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After eight days in Hawaii, the Lakers are back stateside and return to the floor against the Toronto Raptors. Canada’s team is in California for a preseason tour, opening their exhibition campaign against the Clippers and the defending champion Warriors.

If there’s one bit of news that matters heading into the contest it’s who will be available for the Lakers. As we noted in our recap from Tuesday’s game versus the Jazz, the Lakers are a bit banged up and that will affect lineups tonight:

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I’d say second verse, same as the first, but it’d only be because I really enjoy that line.

While there was plenty of hype and hoopla surrounding that first preseason game – and for good reason – the actual game was pretty bleh (technical term). he Lakers shot just 29% and while there were plenty of highlights, the Jazz pulled away late. To his credit, Byron Scott started with the lineup most fans anticipated, but the rotations were definitely worth questioning.

It is worth noting, though, that the lineup Scott started with is much more important moving forward than how he dolled out minutes in a preseason game. This isn’t remotely close.

From last game to Tuesday night, it’d be nice to see a little more mixture of the first and second units. Sunday night, thanks in part to injuries, the group off the bench had no one to create for others. When Marcelo Huertas is available (he’s out both thanks to a Visa and hamtring issue), that playmaker is there when all the starters are out. Basically, any lineup featuring both Lou Williams and Jabari Brown in the backcourt will struggle to find any kind of rhythm in half-court sets.

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Basketball, even if only preseason, is back. After nearly a week of dealing with a certain type of hell in paradise — Byron Scott has certainly lived up to his reputation of running a hard training camp, but at least it’s in Hawaii! — the Lakers finally get to take the court in game action when the Jazz join them in Oahu.

I’ve often said that preseason basketball has little meaning. I truly do believe this, but as with anything else, speaking in absolutes rarely tells the full story. The Lakers are a team in transition and have nearly a roster full of players who have something to prove individually. As a group, too, they are hoping to make more of a push than pundits believe they are capable. This all brings more meaning to this season in general, some of which transfers to the preseason simply because you have to start this path somewhere.

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A Few Pre-Preseason Notes

Anthony Irwin —  October 3, 2015

Well, here we are. The offseason has finally passed (kind of) and the Lakers finally play their first live basketball since the summer league. All the pieces we’ve hypothetically pieced together will share a court at last, so here are some things I’ll be looking for.


If you’ve followed my tweets at all, I’ve been skeptical of how Byron’s run camp thus far. In my opinion, with the mixture of veterans and youth all trying to learn the system together with little to no actual expectations this season, I don’t understand the need to extend practices for any reason. Strategically, there’s no need to squeeze extra sets in before the first of several meaningless games. In terms of conditioning, that tends to come as an 82-game season rolls along.

So you can imagine my distaste as we heard D’Angelo Russell gave it a go in the second practice in the same day after limping off the court only hours prior. I just don’t understand the necessity to get back on the court so quickly given (a) recent history and (b) how many hours will be spent in the gym in the coming months, anyway.

Back to the point at hand, though.

I’ll be interested to see how minutes are dolled out in this first game simply out of curiosity for whatever precedent might be set Sunday. There’s no reason to play to win, so veterans shouldn’t get extended minutes and younger players who know they have a spot on the roster should be played conservatively as well, in my opinion. This first game should be used to see what guys at the end of the roster offer, with cuts coming soon.

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The Lakers wrap up their summer league play today, taking on the Jazz. This will be their 5th game in seven days, or basically enough time to get a rhythm and be a bit worn down after not likely playing much full court basketball of any import over the previous few months. Of course, one could argue the import of these games as well, so…

In any event, the Lakers are 1-3 to this point but are coming off their best game of the tournament in Wednesday’s loss to the Mavs. That game saw Julius Randle breakout, D’Angelo Russell show some fantastic playmaking instincts, Jabari Brown show off his all court scoring game, and Jordan Clarkson continue to look impressive as a shot creator and finisher. Add in the better flow offensively and a more team oriented approach to their sets and I think fans got a lot out of the game even thought it was a loss.

Heading into today’s game, my biggest hope is that these kids are able to build on some of those positive steps forward. As I wrote about heading into this process, I’m not so concerned about wins and losses or even the individual statistics of the players. I’m looking for positives in their games that can be carried forward into the regular season and whatever negatives exhibited are ones that can be worked on, learned from, and minimized going forward.

So far, I’ve seen little to really be overly concerned about while also seeing some positives that can be built upon. Yes, it would be nice if Russell shot better or if Randle did more work on the glass. I’d have liked to see Nance bury a mid-range jumper or two and for Anthony Brown to get a bit more burn (and get some more spot up chances). I’m not going to worry about these things, though. These are young players and we’re playing the long game, not looking for short term gains on players who are very far from finished products.

With that, enjoy the game today folks. It will be the last Lakers’ basketball we see for at least a couple of months. Hopefully the team can go out with a W powered by some strong performances from players they have so much hope for. But, even if they don’t, trust that the work will be put in so they can be better the next time we see them.