Even if it’s only preseason, Tuesday’s overtime loss against the Blazers felt disappointing. The team did not play that well overall, but still had a two point lead with 50 seconds left and possession of the ball only to commit a bad turnover that led to OT. Then, in the extra frame, the Blazers played a makeshift unit devoid of any starters while the Lakers played Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, Randle, and Yi. Based on those groupings, you would hope the Lakers could find a way to win. They did not.
This is where we must all be reminded that the Lakers are a young team that will not always play well or do the right thing on any given possession. As noted above, they had the lead, the ball, and there was under a minute to play. Rather than pull the ball back and give it to a guard, Randle pushed up court, tried to attack the paint for a basket or kickout, but instead turned it over. As frustrating as it was to watch that unfold in real time, it’s a moment he’s going to (hopefully) learn from.
The season will be full of these moments. Having some veterans around will help, but inexperienced players make mistakes. The goal is to make fewer and fewer of them as time passes, of course. But we are in the early stages of this with multiple guys. They are going to need to take their lumps.
As for tonight, the Lakers are in Las Vegas facing off against the Kings. When these two teams played earlier in the preseason, the Kings had the best player (Cousins), the better first unit (on the whole), and hit a lot of shots (contested or otherwise). Meanwhile, the Lakers had the better reserve unit and ended up taking control of the game because their bench carried them vs. the Kings’ 2nd (and 3rd) unit.
Since that game, the Lakers’ first 5 has improved while the bench has continued to play relatively well. The Portland game was a setback in some areas, but again, that’s to be expected with an inexperienced team. Will this rematch from the exhibition opener offer us a repeat from the first time they played or the PDX game? Or will they play as they did vs. the Nuggets?
Now, onto some specifics I will be watching for: