As far as exhibition games go, this was a successful trip to London for the Lakers. Maybe the 111-92 score line that befell the Lake Show doesn’t indicate success but the fact that there are no new additions to Gary Vitti’s schedule makes the London disaster more palatable.
Getting in and out of Europe healthy is priority number one. Number two is seeing how the newest additions fit together in this quest for NBA supremacy for a third straight year.
The game wasn’t all bad.
In fact, at the half it was a one point contest with the Lakers leading the T-Wolves. Kobe Bryant did his best Beckham by making a short six-minute cameo. KB put up a goose egg going 0-3 from the field but did manage to drop a couple of dimes.
The early returns on Steve Blake look great!
As expected, Blake is a perfect fit for the triangle and showed a real grasp on the offense. In 20 minutes, Blake dropped 5 points, dished out 4 dimes and made his only 3-point attempt. Both he and Shannon Brown (13 points, 6-10 shooting) give the Lake Show a potent combo off the bench and should be able to give SportsCenter a highlight or two a week. ShanWow already got his first poster of the season with the promise of more to come.
Matt Barnes also had some nice moments. His defensive intensity created a couple turnovers allowing the Lakers to get out in transition. One play, in particular, gave Laker fans a preview of things to come. In the third quarter, Blake broke down the D, got into the lane and as soon as the defense collapsed on him he hit Barnes in the corner for a spot up three. Money in the bank!
While the second half was nothing to write home about, it did show the difference between the Lakers and the upstart T-Wolves.
The Lakers looked slow and lethargic in a woeful half of basketball that only generated a putrid 36 points. The Wolves, on the other hand, kept bringing in fresh bodies and controlled the tempo. Quiet as kept, Kurt Rambis has a much improved squad on his hands that could create a little noise this season.
Of all the Lakers, the one that stood out was Lamar Odom. Fresh off a summer of international hoops, LO is already looking ready to go which is a good thing considering he’s got to pick up the slack in the absence of Andrew Bynum.
Now, it’s off to Spain where hometown hero Pau Gasol is sure to get a warm reception in Barcelona. Let’s hope he can inspire his teammates to put forth a better effort in the second half. These games might not mean much more than ticket sales but when you’re the champs you’ve got to take some pride every time you put on the Purple and Gold.