(Juan Ocampo/Getty Images)
Lakers Cruise Past Maccabi Haifa
LOS ANGELES — After three straight losses to open the preseason, the Lakers earned their first victory in a huge way, steamrolling Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League, 126-83.
The visitors never stood a chance, as LA snagged a 17-point lead within the game’s first eight minutes. Eventually, the Lakers commanded a 51-point advantage over their overwhelmed guests, who lost by just 13 to the Memphis Grizzlies three days earlier.
Rather than let Haifa stick around, the Lakers took advantage of their foes to the point of inflating their stats to absurd degrees.
Seven Lakers finished in double-digit scoring, including Kobe Bryant, who led the way with 21 points. The 17-time all-star was in vintage form, hitting 6-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-6 on 3-pointers.
“It doesn’t matter defensively or offensively when you have the experience and the knowledge that he has,” head coach Byron Scott said of his 37-year-old star. “You might lose a little bit as far as your athletics and your speed … but he still sees the game at a different speed. So he is able to be in and get to spots that he needs to get to because of his knowledge of the game.”
Meanwhile, LA’s starting frontcourt of Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle took advantage of Maccabi Haifa’s undersized bigs. Randle stretched his hot streak to three games by nearly notching a double-double with 14 points (7-of-12) and nine rebounds.
The 7-foot-2 Hibbert took advantage of his massive frame with 16 rebounds, including seven offensive boards, in 22 minutes. Despite his dominance on the glass and three blocks, Hibbert left his teammates buzzing about his five assists, highlighted by a couple of no-look dimes.
“We have a lot of ball movement here,” Hibbert said. “It’s a little bit different from where I was before (in Indiana). I always say I don’t need to score. I like to see my teammates get set up (for) easy buckets. And I was having a little bit too much fun at one point, but it was good to be out there.”
After sitting out for nearly the entirety of the Lakers’ past two games due to a bruised glute, D’Angelo Russell came off the bench and dizzied Haifa’s defense with an array of passes. Russell, who also hit both of his shot attempts for five points, racked up 11 assists in just 18 minutes.
But the quality of the 19-year-old’s passes was just as impressive as the quantity of them. Russell consistently sacrificed solid looks to set his teammates up for better ones, and also handed out a few bounce passes through traffic for transition layups.
“I know if you’re open, I’m gonna get it to you,” Russell said. “Half the time you probably won’t know you’re open, and I’ll get it to you.”
Video Game Numbers
LA’s statistical dominance illustrated just how outmatched Haifa was. LA hauled in 61 rebounds, while their visitors managed just 26. Meanwhile, Maccabi Haifa shot 33-of-86 (38.4 percent) from the field, while their hosts drilled 12 more shots on three fewer attempts (54.2 percent). Led by four triples apiece from Bryant and Nick Young, the Lakers were deadly from 3-point range, hitting a 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) clip.
Marcelo Huertas (hamstring strain) and Brandon Bass (patella contusion) each sat out due to injury. … The one area that LA did not dominate was turnovers, as it lost the battle, 22-14. … The Lakers never allowed Maccabi Haifa to take the lead or tie. … Ole Miss alum Reggie Buckner led Haifa with 20 points (7-of-8). … A crowd of 14,810 attended the preseason tilt at STAPLES Center.
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