The Los Angeles Lakers played very poorly overall in their first preseason game on Monday versus the Sacramento Kings, especially in the second half.
Although the Lakers lost again, this time by a score of 119-115, they showed definite signs of improvement, especially in the first half when they played a rotation that could’ve passed as one used in the regular season.
They did a decent job of pushing the pace at times, getting 16 fast-break points, and although they allowed 62 first-half points, they held Phoenix to under 40 percent shooting in that span.
Head coach Darvin Ham went with an interesting starting lineup that had 6-foot-9 Wenyen Gabriel at center instead of Anthony Davis, who was held out due to lower back tightness, Damian Jones, who started at the 5 on Monday or Thomas Bryant.
Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook started in the backcourt while Austin Reaves was at the 3 to begin the contest.
Rebounding is still an issue
Los Angeles gave up quite a few offensive rebounds and second-chance points on Monday against the Kings.
Those woes continued on Wednesday, as it got outrebounded 56-48 and allowed 16 offensive boards, which led to 21 second-chance points.
Torrey Craig, a 6-foot-7 small forward, sneaked in to grab seven rebounds, four of them on the offensive end, in just 15 minutes.
For L.A., no one had more than seven boards.
Austin Reaves showed some growth and improvement
As a rookie last season, guard Austin Reaves looked like a serious prospect, as he displayed the ability to contribute in multiple areas.
On Wednesday, he looked very poised as he stood out in two facets of the game.
He did a very good job of facilitating and setting up his teammates, as he collected nine assists in 36 minutes, most of them coming in the first half.
Austin Reaves grabs the steal and dishes the assist! 😤
(live on NBA TV) pic.twitter.com/x1yX17Reig
— NBA (@NBA) October 6, 2022
Once the third quarter arrived, he decided to get a little more aggressive as a scorer, scoring two buckets on runners in the lane.
Defensively, Reaves also made an impact with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
His ability to defend opposing wings while also contributing as a facilitator and outside shooter will be a key to the Lakers’ chances of success this year.
Kendrick Nunn looks like his old self
After a bone bruise in his knee kept him out of the entire 2021-22 regular season, Nunn appears to have returned to form.
He looked as spry as ever against Phoenix, scoring 21 points in just 19 minutes on 8-of-13 shooting from the field.
The guard did a good amount of his damage from the outside, hitting 4-of-7 from 3-point range, but he also attacked the basket on occasion.
Kendrick Nunn tough layup ♨️ pic.twitter.com/VC3QfgIR7e
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 6, 2022
In his spare time, he dished out two dimes while grabbing three rebounds. Turnovers were a problem for him on Monday, as he committed five of them versus the Kings, but tonight he only had one.
LeBron James seems to be in midseason form
The 20-year veteran looked very rusty on Monday, but Wednesday was a different story.
He was on point and aggressive, going 8-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc to finish with 23 points in 17 minutes.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 6, 2022
James also contributed four assists and didn’t have a single turnover.
At age 37, he continues to laugh in the face of Father Time, and as long as the Lakers find a way to trim his minutes and workload throughout the season, Father Time will continue to be dwarfed by James’ amazing longevity.