ANAHEIM — It appeared that Luke Walton was heading for a loss in his first game patrolling the sidelines as head coach of the Lakers before his reserves stormed back with a monster fourth quarter to capture the preseason opener over Sacramento, 103-84.
After trailing by 13 at halftime, Los Angeles cut the Kings’ lead to 69-64 before the start of the final period. Sacramento sent out a handful of reserves, including first-round picks Giorgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson, while the Lakers countered with its own first-rounder, Brandon Ingram.
But it was an undrafted third-year, Tarik Black, who set the tone as the purple and gold rolled off 14 unanswered points to begin the fourth. The recently re-signed power forward proved too athletic and energetic for the Kings’ backups, scoring six of his 15 points on a pair of back-to-back and-1 layups.
Still, Black — who averaged the fewest minutes of any Laker last year — didn’t let exhibition success cloud his vision, instead citing his strong rookie year and per-minute statistics for his belief in himself as a player.
“I picked up a ball to be great; like do really good and have a long career and have longevity at doing being good,” Black. “So one night in the preseason is awesome. It’s great. But (it’s about) continuing on.”
Walton said that Black “definitely helped his case” for playing time in a crowded frontcourt, though he certainly wasn’t the only spark for the Lakers’ 39-15 fourth quarter.
Anthony Brown couldn’t miss, scoring all 10 of his points in the last seven minutes, while Thomas Robinson provided eight points and seven rebounds in the same amount of time to help ice the victory.
Along with Black, the trio shot a perfect 12-of-12 from the field, but D’Angelo Russell took more notice of the reserves’ effort on the other end.
“They got stops,” Russell said. “They were all in on defense and they got to have fun on the other end.”
Change-Up at the Two
Jordan Clarkson started each of the last 117 games of his two-year career, but the 24-year-old came off the bench in his first exhibition under Walton.
The head coach said that Clarkson’s removal from the starting lineup will not necessarily be a longterm decision, claiming that he wanted to see what he could give the team in this role.
Lou Williams started in Clarkson’s place, shooting just 2-of-7 from the field. However, the 11-year veteran was also responsible for keeping the game within reach during a first half that saw the Lakers hit just 34.1 percent, as he cashed 11-of-12 free throws toward 15 points.
Clarkson, meanwhile, was solid as the sixth man, adding a dozen points and six rebounds.
As the second-overall pick of this year’s draft, many of the Lakers’ fans in Anaheim were hoping to cheer the 19-year-old after each made basket.
However, he missed all five of his shots from the field, finishing with only two points off free throws.
Ingram — who is unaccustomed to poor shooting nights having averaged 17.3 points at Duke — instead focused on the other side of the ball.
“It’s something that I have to learn to do: affect the game in a different way,” Ingram said. “If I don’t get it on the offensive end, try to get it on the defensive end. Hopefully the offense will come, too.”
Ingram did compete defensively, especially on a pair of blocks that saw his 7-foot-3 wingspan come into play. One of these swats saw him fall for an Omri Casspi pump-fake only to use his length to recover and get his hand on the ball.
His coach presumed that Ingram likely was at least a bit nervous from putting on his gold jersey for the first time.
“The nerves will make you miss a shot or free throw here and there,” Walton said. “But your nerves don’t really do anything on defense.”
Despite his shots not falling, Ingram’s solid defense on the wing did speak to his mission for the night.
“I think tonight was (about) just being fearless,” Ingram said. “Going out there and trying to guard everyone and get after it defensively.”
During the national anthem, the Lakers locked arms in a gesture of unity amid national-anthem protests across the sports world against racial prejudice. … Russell finished with four points (2-of-8), three assists and five turnovers. … A crowd of 9,187 attended at Honda Center.