There’s no place like home as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the Staples Center after a winless two-game road trip to China to pick up a victory over the Golden State Warriors, which should give the team a nice boost.
Their time in China was filled with drama and tension but a return to the Staples Center appeared to put things back on track.
On this Lakers Nation Podcast, host Trevor Lane is taking a look at three things he learned from the win.
First and foremost, the Lakers decided to play it safe in this game, benching key players like LeBron James, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, and Rajon Rondo. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis was held out due to a thumb injury while Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Troy Daniels, and Quinn Cook remained sidelined with injuries of their own.
With so many players unavailable, an opportunity arose for a young player to step up and Zach Norvell Jr. answered that call. Norvell, who turned heads in Summer League with his shooting ability and steady, all-around game, led the team with 22 points, including a trio of three-pointers and converting 7-of-8 free throw attempts. Norvell also had the play of the game when he crossed over a Warriors defender and then finished at the rim after drawing the foul.
While Norvell looked great, is he ready for prime time? One preseason game doesn’t make him a breakout candidate, but it’s certainly not a bad sign, either. Norvell is on a two-way deal with the Lakers and will likely spend plenty of time with the South Bay Lakers, but it appears that if the Lakers need help on the wing, he could be a legitimate option.
Furthermore, Dwight Howard had his best game of the preseason, putting up 12 points (8-of-10 from free throw line), 13 rebounds, one block, four steals, and six assists.
Howard did his damage in just 22 minutes of playing time. While it’s important to remember the Warriors were resting key players like D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green while Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein were unavailable due to injury, Howard still looked very comfortable as he works to get his legs back under him.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, the Lakers got good news regarding the injuries to Davis and Kuzma. Davis is day-to-day with a sprained thumb while Kuzma has been cleared for non-contact practice, leading to increased optimism about their potential availability on Opening Night against the Los Angeles Clippers.