Russell Westbrook elevates for his shot vs GSW

Three Things to Know: GSW at LAL, Preseason Game No. 5

by Matt Barrero

The Lakers and Warriors will meet for the final time in preseason at Staples Center with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet and TNT.

Here are three things to know before tonight’s contest:

With the offseason acquisition of Russell Westbrook, the Lakers have reentered the “Big 3” world of the NBA. Alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the trio is now being referred to as the “Big 360” in reference to their jersey numbers (Davis #3, James #6 and Westbrook #0) and thanks in part to LeBron’s rearrangement during their photoshoot at Media Day.

While the hype is still very much alive, Lakers Nation has yet to see the three All-Stars play on the floor at the same time. James and Westbrook played together last Friday in San Francisco while Davis had the night off and Davis and Westbrook shared time while James rested this past Sunday. Head coach Frank Vogel confirmed that all three would suit up tonight vs GSW.

“I’ve seen a bunch of it,” said Vogel. “They’ve been together just about every practice, trying to build that chemistry, sometimes with a five, sometimes with AD at the five and all the things that go into, A) executing our system, but B) learning each other. Spacing, screening, passing, catch timing, all those types of things.”

Vogel mentioned before that by the fifth game of the preseason (tonight’s game) he would like to get to the regular season rotation and see how his lineup worked. AD said after Sunday’s game that, minus a few key pieces, the team showed flashes of what could be done on both ends of the floor.

“We showed some good things,” said Davis. “Still trying to figure rotations, and work through the kinks of our defense, guys getting on the same page. This is the first time I’m playing with Russ. I’m trying to get used to him, he’s trying to get used to me. It’ll be a totally different story come Tuesday, now Bron is playing, all three of us, and Mel [Carmelo Anthony], me playing the five, I played the four for two games. Just trying to figure it out. That’s what preseason is for. We’ll work through it, and we’ll be better come the 18th, 19th, whenever the opening night game is.”

It was announced today that Talen Horton-Tucker will require surgery after suffering a right thumb sprain during the second half of last Friday’s loss to Golden State.

“We don’t know,” said Vogel. “He’s having surgery today and we’ll have a timeline once the surgery is completed.”

Vogel emphasized that THT did not know how the injury occurred but that the thumb swelled up after the game’s conclusion. Malik Monk is likely to be out the remainder of preseason, after picking up a groin strain in last Friday’s game. Vogel said prior to Sunday’s game that the team is hopeful he will be ready for the season opener, but they won’t know until they re-evaluate the injury later in the week.

Following the news that newly acquired Trevor Ariza would miss about two months after requiring surgery on his right ankle last week, the Lakers are dealing with some tough losses before the regular season has even tipped off. Both THT and Monk are youthful and can be a spark off the bench, and luckily these injuries are happening early in the new campaign.

“It’s preseason and we have a lot of depth,” said Vogel. “And we’re going to have an opportunity to give minutes to other guys. Next man up.”

Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony enter their 16th, 18th, and 19th season (respectively) after signing one-year contracts with Los Angeles during the offseason. The ultimate goal is to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end and so far this preseason, the veteran trio has shown the true depth the Lakers have.

Rondo has been a general when on the court, leading the Lakers up and down the floor and pushing his teammates to hustle. You can hear and see his leadership during telecasts and his energy boasts well moving forward. During last Friday’s game against the Warriors, Rondo led the team in assists (6) and converted both of this three-point attempts, totaling eight points.

Howard enters his third stint with the Lakers and is showing just how vital his presence will be particularly, under the basket. In three preseason games thus far, Howard has logged 49 minutes, 36 points, and 21 rebounds and earned a double-double in the last preseason game against Golden State.

The man they call ‘Melo’ is still on the hunt for the big prize that has eluded his illustrious career. Anthony logged 17 minutes in his debut in Phoenix last Wednesday, finishing with eight points. Following a quiet night in San Francisco on Friday, Melo came off the bench in Sunday’s game and finished with 17 points, hitting five of seven from behind the arc.

“That’s why we signed him,” said Vogel. “Obviously, he’s been an elite offensively player for many years and he’s going to have that versatility to, not just knock down threes and give that floorspace, but to able to make plays off it as well.”

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