The Lakers continue their 2022-23 preseason with a Wednesday evening contest against Phoenix in Las Vegas. The game tips at 7:00 p.m. PT at T-Mobile Arena. Watch on Spectrum SportsNet or NBA TV.
Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:
AD DOUBLE-DOUBLES IN 16 MINUTES
In L.A.’s preseason opener, Anthony Davis hit four of nine shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, towards 11 points, while controlling the defensive glass by pulling in 10 boards on that end towards 11 overall. With starting center Damian Jones working to keep a body on Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, Davis slid into the paint to clean things up.
Throughout training camp, several of AD’s teammates, and his new head coach Darvin Ham, spoke about his being the “No. 1” option on offense, and that was the case on Monday night. Of course, LeBron James will take on an increased role when the season starts, but nobody was complaining about things going through Davis more often, especially as L.A. started the game on a 12-3 run.
“We were just playing basketball with a lot of energy, knowing we were out there for a limited amount of time,” said Davis, who added that his shot is feeling better after an offseason working with his wrist more healthy than it was in 2021-22.
That he made half of his three-point attempts was significant when juxtaposed to his tough shooting season from distance last year when he made just 13 of 70 attempts (18.6 percent). Davis should get a stiffer test against Phoenix on Wednesday, when he’ll likely spend more time on the perimeter against a Suns team expected to start Cam Johnson at the four.
HAM’S PRESEASON HEAD COACHING DEBUT
The Lakers were up by five at the half thanks largely to an energetic, effective performance on defense, where they held Sacramento to 32.7 percent shooting. The game got away from L.A. in the second half when Darvin Ham went deep into his bench, and his three rookies played big minutes, but Ham was satisfied with the first half effort.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “To give up 20 and 21 points in each quarter is exactly who we want to be, who we have to be. Everything starts on the defensive end for us. Defensive rebounding got away from us a little bit in that first half, but outside of that, I thought our guys competed, protected the rim and were great on the ball, and set a really nice tone going into halftime.”
While Ham’s defense held De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Huerter to a combined 6 of 17 from the field in the opener, the next backcourt test will prove more challenging, as Chris Paul and Devin Booker await after losing their preseason opener to an Australian team.
In his 20th preseason opener, LeBron James played just 16 minutes, mostly focused on ramping up to full game shape for the Oct. 18 regular season opener.
“For me it’s all about getting in a rhythm and getting my conditioning in,” he said. “These are opportunities to put stuff in we’ve been working on this last week, but also just getting my conditioning down.”
In a rarity even for a preseason game, LeBron missed all seven of his shots, but he said that’s the “last thing on his mind,” as he knows he’ll convert at his traditional level as his minutes go up. He was largely pleased with how the team played.
“For the first 24 minutes, I thought we were defending on a string and helping each other out, and offensively we were playing good basketball, even though some of the shots weren’t going in, we were making the right plays,” he explained.
The plan for LeBron’s minutes in the Las Vegas back-to-back have yet to be determined, as they’ll keep taking it one day at a time.