The Lakers preseason started off tonight in a matchup against the young and talented Golden State Warriors. So far throughout training camp, the Lakers have made it known that they planned to improve their effort and production on the defensive end, well what better test in the preseason than to start of against this Warriors team which ranked in the top 10 in offensive production last season.
The most important aspects of the preseason are that this team continues to build chemistry, and develop an defensive identity. So while getting a win tonight would be great, it’s not necessarily the main priority for this team, hence why Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol sat out.
Not much star-power from the Lakers tonight, but the provided a good show to the fans out in Ontario in typical purple and gold fashion.
To start the Lakers preseason off, Chris Kaman converted on midrange jump shot from the top of the key. That basket would initiate a 7-0 run to start the game after a Nick Young three-pointer followed by another Chris Kamen basket. The Warriors would then race off quickly on a 15-0 run spear-headed by Andre Iguodala’s energy and intensity on the offensive and defensive end. Following the quick run by the Warriors, Steve Blake would have a mini-run of his own by scoring six consecutive points to bring the Lakers back into the game by the middle of the first quarter.
The first substitutions off the bench for the Lakers were Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar and Robert Sacre. Farmar would come into the game and quickly change the pace, as he got three quick assists during early offense opportunities and in transition. Xavier Henry came in during first quarter and was sort of surprise. He capitalized on a few open jump shots, and drew a few fouls while driving to the rim.
Defensively, the Lakers looked like a work-in-progress to say the least. While they made a consistent effort to close out on the Warriors sharp-shooters, they failed to get back in transition, allowing the Warriors to get plenty of early offense opportunities.
At the end if the first the Warriors led 29-28.
In the second quarter, the second unit would continue to push the pace and capitalize on their chances to score early, and perhaps there wasn’t a player that took advantage of that pace more than Nick “Swaggy P” Young. Young would go on a tear, scoring off the dribble, in transition, and in the pick-and-roll. He would score 14 of his 17 first half points in this quarter, and one highlight in particular that stood out was his step-back fadeaway over second year forward Harrison Barnes. It was also good to see a player on the Lakers roster that had the ability to create their own shot from the perimeter and draw fouls. Those are two things that will be key for the Lakers as they continue to build team chemistry.
The most impressive takeaway from the first half other than Nick Young was the Lakers ability to shoot the ball. One thing head coach Mike D’Antoni has been mentioning during camp is that this team is significantly better at stretching the floor. This first half justified that statement as the Lakers would shoot 20-40 from the field, making 4-10 from beyond the arc.
At half-time the Lakers led 60-57.
The second half started off very slow for the Lakers as they would score only three points through 10 minutes into the third quarter. The flow and continuity on the offensive end that they had in the first half was non-existent, and that’s to be expected during preseason basketball. A lack of ball movement, and offensive fluidity would make the bulk of this quarter very difficult to watch.
Fortunately for the Lakers, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry would come in and provide another spark, as they would generate a 7-0 run in the final few minutes to keep the Lakers in the game.
Despite a 25 percent shooting quarter, the Lakers went into the fourth quarter trailing by one point, 71-70.
The energy and effort from Farmar and Henry would carry over into the fourth quarter, as they would score the first two baskets. Henry in particular would show off his scoring ability in this quarter, netting 10 of the Lakers first 14 points in the quarter. Farmar would control the pace in great fashion, as he continued to distribute the ball and set up his teammates.
The fourth quarter would also give Laker fans their first opportunity to see Elias Harris and Marcus Landry. Landry and Harris would connect on a beautiful out of bounds play, and may have given an indicator as to where a few of the end of the bench guys stand in the eyes of Mike D’Antoni.
The combined work of Farmar and Henry would help the Lakers secure a comfortable win in their first preseason game, 104-95.