In a sloppy and choppy game that saw lots of mistakes and struggles on both sides of the ball, the Lakers preseason opener ended in a loss to the Timberwolves 108-99.
As was expected, the Lakers did not look very sharp, with a handful of stats reflecting exactly where things went poorly:
- The Lakers had 16 turnovers, but many were simply miscues — dropped passes, mishandled dribbles, and the result of generally forcing the action.
- The Lakers shot 5-30 from behind the arc, hoisting up several bad misses including several airballs.
- The Lakers committed 29 fouls, sending the Timberwolves to the foul line 35 times (making 28).
- The ‘Wolves grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, mostly off poor boxouts and too many instances where big man help was not covered by the Lakers wings and guards.
You can imagine, then, that the overall flow of the game wasn’t that great and the Lakers suffered for it.
Regarding individual performances there were some positives, however. Kyle Kuzma continued his strong play from summer league, leading the Lakers in scoring with 19 points on 9-12 shooting (including 8-8 from inside the arc). While it’s only one preseason game, when you add this to his play from Las Vegas, he’s making a louder case for rotation minutes every time he steps on the floor.
I was also generally impressed with how Tyler Ennis played this game, using patience and smart decision making to score 6 points and hand out 8 assists. Ivica Zubac also had two good stints, with his first run of the game proving to be quite the turnaround from his spotty summer league performance. Back were the soft hands, good shooting touch, and wonderful acumen for spacing and relocating in order to create passing angles which led to scoring opportunities for himself.
You may notice a them here. All of the names mentioned are of backups. Of the starters, Julius Randle had the best numbers, posting 15 points and 7 rebounds on 7-14 shooting. He was assertive offensively and certainly moved well around the floor, but at times he also forced the action and didn’t make as many quick decisions with the ball as I would like.
Which now brings us to Lonzo and Ingram. I’ll start with the rookie first since he’s the player most fans have a high level of excitement over. I wouldn’t say he played poorly — his numbers of 5 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds were solid and he generally played the style we’ve come to expect of him. He pushed the ball, made some really good reads, and did a nice job of looking in control of the team’s offense. However, he also looked winded early in the game, turned down shots at the rim in order to force passes, and got himself in trouble a few times by leaving the floor without an idea of what he was going to do with the ball.
These are not major mishaps, but in a way this performance reminded me of his first preseason game where he looked like he did not yet have a great feel for how he could best put his stamp on the game. I think he’ll get better with time.
As for Ingram, he shot 4-15 from the field and while I like his general aggressiveness, he looked like a guy who has not played a lot of basketball this summer. Remember, Ingram only played the one summer league game in Vegas and hasn’t played much organized basketball outside of a couple of team scrimmages this week. His timing did not look great, he forced the action a bit too much for my liking, and he didn’t show a great deal of playmaking or passing.
Ingram’s shooting — and, more specifically, his shot selection — is not something I’m going to harp on after a single game, but this is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, I want Ingram being assertive and looking to score. But in a season where there seems to be more pressure on him to do so, I do not want that influencing him into taking too many bad shots. Ingram is too good a ball mover and showed enough feel as a passer as a rookie for that to happen.
Again, I don’t want to harp on a bad shooting night in the team’s 1st preseason game and project that forward into the season. But, just keep an eye on this in the upcoming games.
Overall, I’m mostly fine with this game. We told you it was going to be sloppy and that the Wolves are a much improved team. I don’t care much about the final score and don’t think we learn much of anything from that at all. It was good to see some of the reserves play well and I liked the aggressiveness from some of the starters. If anything, this game reflects there’s a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.
They’ll get a chance to show better on Monday.