The Los Angeles Lakers played their second preseason game Friday night when they hosted the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.
Despite leading 80-72 going into the fourth quarter, the Lakers were not able to hang on as first-year head coach Luke Walton did not play his starters, or even his second unit for much of the fourth quarter leading to a 101-97 defeat.
Second overall pick in the 2016 draft Brandon Ingram picked up his first two field goals as a Lakers, as he went 2-for-8 from the field, including a three-point attempt that banked in resulting in six points for the rookie.
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell showed great improvement from the first game, as he led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting. 19 of those 21 points came in the first half.
Jordan Clarkson also impressed on both ends of the floor, as he once again came off the bench and scored 15 points to go along with four steals. One area of struggle for the Lakers was taking care of the ball, as they had 18 turnovers.
The Lakers are once again hosting the Nuggets on Sunday night, although this game will be played in Ontario.
The Lakers front court once again features Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov, with Larry Nance Jr., Tarik Black and Yi Jianlian likely seeing a bulk of the front court minutes off the bench.
Randle had a much-improved performance in Friday’s game as he had six points, six rebounds, and three assists. The point forward was often seen taking the ball up the court and finding guys like Mozgov for easy dunks.
Nance Jr. turned in another complete performance Friday, bringing energy on both ends of the floor off the bench resulting in 11 points and five rebounds.
The Lakers front court will once again have the challenge of guarding the seven-foot tall pair of international players Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic who scored 18 and eight points respectively in the last meeting.
Veterans Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried both did not play in Friday’s game giving an opportunity for rookie Juancho Hernangomez, the 15th overall pick in 2016 out of Spain, to get extended minutes. He had eight points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.
As previously mentioned the Lakers young backcourt of Russell and Clarkson were both impressive Friday night. They will look to continue that Sunday as they face off against the Nuggets young backcourt players, namely Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray.
Mudiay was taken seventh overall in 2015 and Murray went seventh this year as they figure to be the backcourt of the future for Denver.
Murray led the comeback Friday as he scored 16 points, adding seven rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. Murray showed the ability to create his own shot as he figures to be a pure scorer in the league for many years to come.
Shooting guard Gary Harris, who was expected to start Friday’s game, suffered an unfortunate set back. On Thursday, head coach Michael Malone stated Harris would miss about a month with a groin injury.
Keys to Victory:
Limiting turnovers: The Lakers have averaged 19 turnovers through their first two preseason games, which is expected with a young backcourt but can be easily fixed. Randle and Russell combined for nine turnovers in the team’s first game, and then improved to just six on Friday. Look for Russell to focus on taking care of the ball Sunday night.
Communicating on defense: Walton and the Lakers coaching staff has focused heavily on defense since the start of training camp. With a young nucleus communication is often the biggest issue especially when defending the pick-and-roll. Los Angeles has a lot of talented individual defensive players, but their ability to communicate and work together will lead to success.
Los Angeles Lakers (1-1) vs. Denver Nuggets (2-0)
6:30 P.M. PST, October 9, 2016
Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Nick Young
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Yi Jianlian, Jose Calderon
Nuggets Starting Lineup:
PG: Emmanuel Mudiay
SG: Will Barton
SF: Wilson Chandler
PF: Nikola Jokic
C: Jusuf Nurkic
Key Reserves: Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Jameer Nelson