Los Angeles Lakers first-year head coach Luke Walton got his first crack at the former team he coach as the Lakers played the Golden State Warriors Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The Warriors put on an offensive clinic in the first half, scoring 74 points, but a nice effort by the Lakers in the second half made the loss look a bit more respectable as the Lakers fell 112-107.
Despite a 2-4 record this preseason, the buzz around this Lakers team is beginning to grow as they are proving that they can compete with anyone, something that is encouraging for a team that was a franchise worst 17-65 a season ago.
A lot of that has to do with Walton and his coaching staff. Before Saturday’s game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who Walton used to coach under in Golden State, praised Walton saying he is going to be a brilliant coach, via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“He’s so comfortable in his own skin,” Kerr said before the Lakers’ 112-107 loss to the Warriors on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. “Who that is is somebody who knows the game, gets along with players and wants to see the game played with the ball moving at a beautiful pace. That’s going to be from his heart. He’ll figure out how he wants to operate on a daily basis because that’s where it’s about your personality than any mentor you had. The guy is going to be a brilliant coach.”
Walton was an assistant under Kerr for the past two seasons and served as the interim head coach when Kerr was absent with an injury during the first half of last season. Walton said he is trying to instill a similar culture in Los Angeles that the Warriors have:
“The culture that we had up there is what I’m trying to build down here,” Walton said. “Obviously it’s different starting points and different plan of attacks because of the youth that we have and new coaches in and new vets coming in. But the way they did things as far as big picture is something I’d like to see down here.”
Walton and the Lakers will get another shot at the Warriors Wednesday night in San Diego. While the Lakers aren’t considered to be title contenders this season like the Warriors, the hope is that they can make progress and lay the foundation for a bright future.