The Los Angeles Lakers have battled through the Pacific Division during this preseason, outside of the Denver Nuggets. On Saturday, they geared up for their first matchup against the Golden State Warriors. The preseason contest was a reunion, as head coach Luke Walton battled against his former team.
With Lou Williams and Jose Calderon out for the game, Walton had to make adjustments, particularly with the guards. The Lakers started with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Luol Deng, Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov.
Clarkson was inserted back into the starting lineup, although Walton has preferred him off the bench.
The Lakers started off shaky, particularly on the defensive end. The Warriors started off shooting, draining nine of their first 10 shots. Klay Thompson hit a hot streak, draining multiple three-pointers off of set screens. On the other hand, the Lakers offense was stagnant, with a lot of wasted possessions.
Looking troubled on offense, Clarkson and Russell had to settle for long three-pointers. The fluidity between the two teams was on display. The Warriors were running sets while on fast breaks, while the Lakers had to hold the ball before going into some offensive schemes.
The second unit showed signs of improvement, demonstrating more hustle on the defensive end. Tarik Black‘s aggressiveness on the boards earned two quick fouls on Anderson Varejao, which also resulted in early free throws. On a smooth inbounds play, Marcelo Huertas hit Black, who then fired to Brandon Ingram for a corner three.
At the end of the first quarter, the Warriors had a total of seven three-pointers, while the Lakers finished with six turnovers. After a quarter, the Warriors led 40-25.
The bench mob started off the second quarter
Lakers fans saw a treat at the beginning of the second, as Ingram and Kevin Durant started dueling on both ends. Ingram took a hard drive to the rim and appeared to be fouled on the arm, but to no avail. Durant then followed with a step back jumper, which narrowly went in.
Heading into his break, Durant had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting. Black continued to be a presence on the boards, collecting multiple offensive rebounds for second chance points.
In terms of offensive execution, the Lakers often found themselves hustling to get a set off. The team had many possessions in the first half with a late pick and roll to get a contested shot off. However, Nick Young emerged into the lone positive for the Lakers the first half. His offensive prowess created scoring opportunities, with nine points on 4-for-4 shooting.
For the Warriors, Thompson continued his hot shooting, with an effortless and beautiful release. The Warriors continually capitalized with their use of screens, whether it was a pick and roll or off the ball. The Warriors lead swelled to 30 points, as the Warriors had 70 points with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Going into halftime, the Lakers trailed the Warriors, 74-47. The Lakers youth couldn’t settle into their shot, as Russell, Clarkson and Randle went a combined 4-for-17.
With a rather large lead entering the second half, coach Kerr elected to take out Curry and Thompson for the remaining contest. The Lakers sent back out their starting five, attempting to work on the offense and improve the chemistry.
The Lakers offense began showing signs of life in the third, executing to some easy baskets. Off of a defensive rebound, Randle dribbled down the court between two Warriors guards for an electric two-handed slam. The defense began catching onto the off screens from the Warriors, forcing consecutive turnovers off of risky passes.
While the offense was beginning to score, the Lakers were also showing their inexperience. On many occasions, the passes were not crisp and direct, which led to deflections in the passing lane. Also, Randle had two instances where he threw a pass to the top of the key, while that player was cutting to the basket.
Young continued his hot shooting, draining a three-pointer at the top of the key off of a few screens. With just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, coach Kerr emptied out his bench and took out his starters.
The Lakers went on a 16-2 run to end the third quarter, sparked by their aggressive defense that created turnovers. On the final play, Nance Jr. gave an outlet to Young, who pump faked and hit Ingram in the corner for a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
At the end of three quarters, the Lakers brought down the lead to 96-79
Young continued his strong showing this preseason, contributing on both ends of the floor. Young created a turnover and remained active on defense, battling through screens and attempting to get in the passing lane.
Ivica Zubac saw his first action of the game with eight minutes left in the quarter. He immediately made an impact, boxing out Varejao for a defensive rebound and collecting an offensive rebound tap out, which led to a Clarkson three.
Coach Walton would go on to empty his bench, inserting Thomas Robinson and Anthony Brown into the game. The Lakers continued trimming the lead, with a 10-point deficit with four minutes to play. Although it was between the bench units, both teams continuing competing to the end.
The two teams began trading baskets, as the aggressive defense on both ends led to free throws and backdoor layups. On an errant Clarkson three with the shot clock down, Robinson collected an offensive rebound for a three-point play.
However, the clock would catch up to the Lakers. At the conclusion of the game, the Warriors defeated the Lakers 112-107.