It is the final Lakers preseason game before the regular season starts. If we’re tracking news, Lonzo Ball is out and Andrew Bogut is too — which should not be a surprise considering we were told this exact thing could happen. And, honestly, this is what I would have done too if the decision was up to me.
Look, I wish Lonzo could have played more this preseason. The Lakers need him; they depend on him. The fact that he didn’t play a single minute with Brook Lopez in an actual game situation isn’t ideal. The fact that, despite playing well in summer league, Lonzo hasn’t gotten much floor time to find his stride against better players is not good either. But, there’s nothing to do about that now. He’s out this game and will be thrown into the fire next week when the games “count”.
If you’re looking for a real preview for tonight’s game, I’m sorry, you’ve come to the wrong place. Tonight is a bout one thing for me — leave the game as healthy as you start it. As noted, the Lakers are already down Lonzo (and Bogut). This is a team that will be reliant on its depth the entire season and, as we saw last year, losing one or two key players for any stretch cascades into catastrophe quickly.
So, stay healthy and I’m happy.
If you are wondering about X’s and O’s, though, I will say this – the Clippers are a new team. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan remain, but gone is Chris Paul. European sensation and rookie PG Milos Teodosic has replaced him, bringing a flair and passing acumen rarely seen. Danilo Gallinari has come over from Denver and there is then a mish-mash of holdover veteran guys and young players (who came over the from the Rockets in the Paul deal) who makeup the rest of the roster.
That is the context, then, for not really knowing how this new Clips team is going to play. Will they play faster and less methodical? Will Blake handle the ball more? How does Doc Rivers coach this team and deploy his lineups? These are unknowns at this point and it makes for an interesting season ahead for the Clippers.
Getting back to the Lakers, then, the team is going to start Larry Nance again at PF, though Luke Walton insists the battle for the starting spot with Randle (and, remote as it is, Kyle Kuzma) is still active. The time between this preseason finale and opening night will give the team plenty of practice time to sort that out.
Personally, I think Nance is doing fine as a starter. He actually needs better players around him to be more effective, so I think that’s the case for him being left in that role. Randle, on the other hand, will play the same game regardless and has found some chemistry with Kyle Kuzma on the 2nd unit. In other words, this could be a case for not starting the better player — which Randle is at this point.
But these are discussions for another day. Tonight, I just want everyone to stay healthy — win or lose. Enjoy the game, folks. The regular season is around the corner.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet and TNT.