(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
LeBron, Ingram Lead Lakers' Vegas Win Over Warriors
The Warriors didn’t need a reminder of LeBron James’ brilliance, but he gave them one anyway.
Four months after James led Cleveland against Golden State in the NBA Finals, he engaged them in a much-lower-stakes preseason matchup, this time in a new uniform.
LeBron was dominant in just 18 minutes on the floor, packing them with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, as the Lakers came away with a 123-113 win in Las Vegas.
The Lakers scored 38 fast-break points — 21 more than the Warriors — and James was instrumental to that high-octane pace with the way he ripped down rebounds and immediately charged ahead in transition, setting up open looks.
That fast-break play also opened up a few layups for the league’s best driver, as LeBron shot 4-of-5 at the rim, while also drawing two shooting fouls.
He went coast-to-coast like a runaway train on one lay-in and split two rim protectors for another, but his most spectacular play was one where he practically shot the ball from the other side of the Strip.
With the buzzer about to sound at the end of the first half, James caught the ball near mid-court and swished a 34-foot 3-pointer before pausing for several seconds to admire his own trey.
Then again, James’ top play may have been his and-1 circus shot. He drove to the basket and Golden State’s center hooked his arm, but LeBron still kissed it off the glass with one hand.
“I don’t know how he made that one,” Kyle Kuzma said. “That was pretty spectacular. What can I say? He’s one of the greatest players of all time.”
James also showed off his excellent transition passing, though his best assist of the night was out of the post.
He held the ball at the top of the key and waited for the play to develop before firing a bounce pass to a cutting Kentavious Caldwell Pope (who scored 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter).
LeBron James went from 25 post-up assists in 2016-17 to a league-leading 61 post assists last season.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) October 11, 2018
He has become a genius distributor in the post: stays patient, sees angles and passing lanes that are invisible to any other player. pic.twitter.com/Xa3DTkmMWY
While James was done for the night by halftime, Golden State returned a trio of all-stars for the third quarter: Stephen Curry (23 points), Klay Thompson (20 points) and Kevin Durant (18 points, 12 rebounds).
However, the Lakers nonetheless expanded their lead in the third, thanks to Brandon Ingram functioning as a magnet for fouls.
Ingram has been at his best this preseason when using his 7-foot-3 wingspan to attack the paint. While he only had one basket at the rim, Ingram still put that length to use by drawing 17 free throw attempts.
Ingram hit 15 of those foul shots, inflating his preseason clip to 80.0 percent at the stripe. He finished the night with 26 points in as many minutes, including 17 in the LeBron-less third quarter.
Lonzo Ball suited up for the first time since March, providing seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, four rebounds and four steals in his preseason debut.
Ball — who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee over the offseason — was active defensively and brought the crowd to its feet on a dunk off a lob from James, whom has yet to play alongside at practice.
“That’s my first time being on his team,” Ball said. “But that’s my play. We run that all the time and he put it up there for me.”
Kyle Kuzma scored 22 points. … Rajon Rondo had seven assists and only two shot attempts. … Josh Hart (hamstring) was listed as questionable but played 10 minutes. … Draymond Green (knee) did not play. … Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher and A.C. Green were among those in attendance. … At halftime, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson was presented the key to the city of Las Vegas.