Lakers vs. Nuggets: 3 Big Questions (10/4/17)
The Lakers continue their preseason tour by paying a visit to the Inland Empire for rematch with the Denver Nuggets.
Here’s what to keep an eye on when the purple and gold take the floor in Ontario.
What will the reaction be for Lonzo?
Citizens Business Bank Arena — the site of today’s game — stands just minutes away from Lonzo Ball’s family home in Chino Hills.
Ball and his two younger brothers become phenomenons during their run together at Chino Hills High two years ago. Lonzo was the alpha dog of the team that went 35-0 and won the state title, as he averaged a triple-double with 23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists.
Just about every game that Ball and the Huskies played was standing-room only, as the team put a national focus on the Inland Empire community.
Expect an electric crowd for Lonzo’s first homecoming as a Laker, as the 19-year-old hopes to play in front of family and friends, in spite of a mild left ankle sprain that held him out of Tuesday’s practice.
How many rotation players will be available?
Ball is hardly alone on the Lakers injury report. Brandon Ingram (head contusion) and Larry Nance Jr. (sprained right index finger) also suffered ailments in Monday’s loss to Denver.
And while Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Josh Hart all returned to full-court, five-on-five scrimmaging at practice, their statuses for Wednesday’s contest are uncertain.
With as many as six players possibly missing this game, the Lakers will look to see what they can get out of the remaining 14 on the training-camp roster.
Regardless of if the player pool is trimmed down, keep an eye on Julius Randle, who had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double on Monday. More than his traditional stats, Luke Walton was pleased with Randle’s performance because he resisted fatigue and provided vocal help-side defense.
Preseason double-double for Mr. Randle (10 pts, 10 reb in 21 min). pic.twitter.com/69J6GMxqSQ— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 3, 2017
Can Kuzma keep up his red-hot scoring?
Randle’s fellow power forward has been the fan favorite of preseason, as Summer League stud Kyle Kuzma continues to get buckets.
The rookie has led the Lakers in scoring in both of their games so far, putting up 23 points on Monday, including 11 during a fourth-quarter comeback bid.
Confident from across the floor, Kuzma has hit 62.1 percent of his shots (18-of-29) this preseason in a variety of ways. He has sunk 3-pointers, pulled up from mid-range, driven for layups and generally been a matchup problem for opposing power forwards with his touch and mobility.
And according to Walton, he’s always ready for a challenge.
“He doesn’t care that it’s the preseason, he doesn’t care that it’s practice, he doesn’t care if it’s a shooting drill — he wants to win,” Walton said at Tuesday’s practice. “I love that about him.”
Tip-Off: 7 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally.
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW