Lakers Aim for Sharper Play In Second Exhibition

Toward the end of the first half of Tuesday’s exhibition win over Sacramento, Lakers head coach Luke Walton sent out one of the small-ball lineups that he wanted to test out during the preseason.

But the Kings brought in a pair of redwoods in DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein, leaving Walton to call back Luol Deng and put out another big.

With the Lakers facing Denver in another preseason contest on Friday, Walton will have some more opportunities to tinker with combinations.

“I’d like to try a couple different small lineups when the opportunity presents itself,” Walton said at Thursday’s practice.

However, the head coach doesn’t envision altering his rotation much from Tuesday, instead wanting to see what his players picked up from watching game tape.

He said that they showed “great ball pressure” in practice, but has realistic expectations for his team on that end.

“No one’s ever gonna defend on every single play,” Walton said. “We can keep preaching it, but I think when you can show it and the players can actually see what we’re talking about, then they buy in even more.”

Indeed, his point guard, D’Angelo Russell, was able to speak to the importance of picking up details on film.

“We missed a lot of screens, a lot of defensive assignments,” Russell said. “We were a little lost on the offensive end running plays.”

Walton plans to keep it simple for his young team, at least in the early stages.

With this group, the 36-year-old is taking his time with teaching, especially on the defensive side.

“We came in with the idea of: ‘Look, we won 17 games last year, so let’s not take for granted that we know even basic concepts,’” Walton said. “Let’s build from the ground up.”

JC Off the Bench
After starting his last 117 games, Jordan Clarkson came off the bench in Tuesday's preseason opener, as Lou Williams started at shooting guard.

Clarkson — whom Walton praised at training camp for his commitment to defense — claimed that his status as a reserve won't affect the way he plays.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Clarkson said. “As long as I’m on the court, playing minutes, I’m going to impact the game someway — if that’s defensively or offensively. I’m always going to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. That’s where I’m going to make my mark.”