Lakers Finish Winless to Close Preseason
For the third time in the last decade, the Los Angeles Lakers went winless in the preseason, following a 116-112 defeat to the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night.
In their second consecutive start, the “Big 3” of Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook found a better rhythm and executed on both ends of the court. James looked regular season ready and for the first time in his career finished with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists in a preseason game.
Coach Frank Vogel was not surprised with LeBron’s performance considering the season starts in five days.
“Nothing he does surprises me,” Vogel said. “He was terrific tonight, final dress rehearsal with our group, this new team for opening night. I like how he attacked the rim, I liked how he took jump shots when the defense gave him too much space. He made them pay over the top. That’s something he has done really well over the last few years. A great performance overall.”
Davis concluded his night with a double-double scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds and DeAndre Jordan also earned a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Westbrook scored 18 points and added five assists.
Off the bench, Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc and Austin Reaves took advantage of injuries to the backcourt and made a strong case to possibly crack the opening night roster, contributing seven assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes.
Vogel said they have a deep bench and doesn’t know about a rotation spot just yet for Reaves, but importantly, with the rookie’s preseason play, “He’s earned my trust for sure.”
Despite the loss, Vogel thought the team executed well and saw the preseason as an opportunity to use practice games to build a rhythm and timing and get to the finish line healthy.
“I think our pace is really good,” Vogel said. “In these preseason games our guys are really playing to exhaustion, which is what we’re asking of them. You push the pace and you’re tired tonight but your legs get stronger tomorrow. Pushing through that stuff and playing to exhaustion in these last couple of preseason games is going to make you stronger by opening night. I still think we have a long way to go on the defensive end with getting everybody integrated and up to speed on how we do things. Every time we’ve touched the floor there’s growth and improvement and I thought that was a huge improvement tonight.”
Los Angeles opened the game hitting 7 of their first 10 shots but trailed by 12 at the quarter’s end. They would open the second period hitting 9 of their first 12 shots and would cap off a 16-0 run to take a 42-39 lead about midway through. Sacramento would respond and would carry a six-point lead into halftime.
The trend of executing shots early in the quarter continued, as the Lakers went on a 20-6 run to take an 85-77 lead at the halfway mark of the third. The Kings would respond once more, closing out the third quarter on a 15-2 run to take a 92-87 lead into the final quarter. The two teams would trade the lead back and forth and were tied at 102 with six minutes left in the game. Sacramento would get the upper hand and last laugh on Los Angeles, finishing 5-10 to the Lakers’ 3-10.
Los Angeles will open the regular season with a matchup against Golden State on Tuesday Oct. 19, at STAPLES Center.
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