From Mike Truddell, Basket Blog: Purple and gold jerseys were nearly as omnipresent at London’s sold out O2 Arena as they are in STAPLES Center during the NBA’s opening preseason game in the United Kingdom, but the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Lakers 111-92 on Monday evening. Kobe Bryant (knee) played for only the first six minutes of the contest and Pau Gasol 20 as Phil Jackson gave considerable playing time to his bench. The Wolves played well throughout, showing their youthful exuberance in sprinting out to a big third quarter lead after the Lakers held a one-point lead at halftime. “I thought our guys did a really good job in the effort department,” said Wolves coach Kurt Rambis. “I see the reality of it too. Kobe played a little under six minutes. I coached under Phil. He’s looking at a time sheet and giving players as much playing time as possible. They don’t have the mindset to come out and win games. We’re a young team, we want to try and win with every opportunity we’re on the floor.”
From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: London was calling, but Kobe Bryant was sitting. Continuing a slow and gradual comeback from off-season knee surgery, Bryant played only the first six minutes and was scoreless in the Lakers’ 111-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in an exhibition opener Monday. He missed all three of his shots, including two three-point attempts. Bryant had two assists and a rebound. A series of “Ko-be” chants bounced around O2 Arena in the second half but Bryant stayed on the bench, by design. “I wanted to get up and get in, but I already had the shoes unlaced, ice on the knees,” he said. “Knees were frozen. At that point I couldn’t get back in. lt felt great to still get out there and play and run around a little bit. Coach Rambis just gave me a big hug and thanked me for not playing.” That would be Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis, who beat mentor Phil Jackson for the first time, albeit in an exhibition game.
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: 1. It’s a preseason game. The result doesn’t matter.But the Lakers didn’t play pretty, either, in their 111-92 exhibition loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They looked like they weren’t even trying in the second half. They went 18 for 33 from the free-throw line. They collected 22 turnovers and 33 fouls. That’s why they call them exhibition games. Their defense was suspect. There’s no need to look into the aforementioned statistics too much. Championship teams tend to pace themselves during such contests, while teams looking to improve hope the preseason serves as a barometer for the season. Still, the Lakers will need to have a stronger showing than that this month. Even in a game that was far from pretty, though, there were a few notes of interest.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: The Lakers traveled halfway across the world to officially open their three-peat bid with a haphazard 111-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Los Angeles’ first exhibition game of the season, and suddenly it seems Kobe Bryant‘s surgically repaired right knee might be a world away from being fully healed. “I’m probably about 60 percent,” Bryant said. Bryant’s knee was operated on in late July for the third time since 2003. He had to have the knee drained in between Games 4 and 5 of L.A.’s first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder last spring. After the Lakers beat the Celtics to capture the championship in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Bryant claimed that removing the excess fluid in the knee improved his health for the rest of the postseason.
Chris J says
A fun story to follow this season will be the bench’s development. We all know that Phil will shorten the rotations during the playoffs. But he’ll have use the first 82 games to test and study how the other seven or eight guys fit in, what strengths they posses and what weaknesses they hold, etc.
Whether it involves inserting Sasha during a likely foul situation (like at the end of Game 7 vs. Boston), or inserting someone like Ebanks when there’s need for an extra pressure defender on the wind, by season’s end we’ll all have a better idea of what roles these guys can and should fill for the betterment of the team.
The Lakers’ depth this season is very intriguing. If those bench guys can learn their roles while spelling the starters from logging too many regular-season minutes, the Lakers are poised to be even stronger come the playoffs than they have been in the past three trips to the Finals.
After watching the first pre season game I thought it was a great showing if you are a Lakers fan. Of course how the team plays in a pre season game is about as important as a defender in Kobe’s face as he is fading away… what is in important is how individual players look. And by the way things look early on Lamar Odon and Ron Artest might have bounce back years.
I argued early in the summer that Lamar’s presence on team USA would greatly help his performance during the season as he is famously lazy in the off-season coming into each year less athletic and in worse shape than the year before. For the first time since his first season as a Laker (also the last time he played on team USA) Odom is in mid season form.
Speaking of being in Shape… the king of physique himself Ron Artest could never be accused of not having his wind. But in past seasons he has built himself more like a football player than a basketball player. This summer he continued to dedicate his time into slimming down to his early days with the Bulls and in Indiana. A lighter Artest means a very dangerous weapon for the Lakers.
Darius Soriano says
I planned to have some thoughts on yesterday’s game up by now but other things have intervened. I’ll have something up later today, but it will take a bit of time.
Also, I agree with Aaron in that playing for Team USA obviously helped Odom as he looked not only in shape, but to have a timing and rhythm that other players on the team lacked (Kobe and Pau, especially).
I also agree with Chris J in that Phil surely understands that he has a good, veteran bench that he can go to and that he has rookies that can contribute in limited ways if used correctly. I’ll talk more about this later, but I see good things coming from the Lakers bench unit – even the rookies and Ratliff.
I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this in the previous thread, but I was impressed with what I saw from Theo Ratliff as well. He was extremely active in the middle and wasn’t afraid to body up to his assignment. His ability to finish under the basket was a little suspect, but when we’re talking about the 4th big man in what will be a tight 3 man rotation (PG, LO, AB) then it’s acceptable.
Even though yesterday was a loss, I enjoyed the game. I was itching for some Lakers action!
Looking at what happened to Wade, I’m happy with our preseason game thus far.
The purpose is to get players ready for the regular season without getting them hurt, and though there was a minor tweak, we’re good.
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.