Fans in the IE hoping to get an up close glimpse at greatness were disappointed last night. Kobe Bryant sat out the Lakers’ 93-75 loss to the Portland Trailblazers last night teasing the fans in Ontario with his presence in street clothes on the bench. A sore should sidelined Bryant but it’s not expected to be a problem going forward. Just another precautionary measure to make sure all is in order for the start of the regular season.
For whatever it’s worth the first team Lake Show with Jodie Meeks taking KB24’s place did hang with the full strength Blazers. Steve Nash and the rest of the starters actually logged minutes into the third quarter as Mike Brown begins to tighten down his preseason rotation.
Nash delivered an efficient performance scoring 13 on only 9 shots while dishing out 4 dimes in 25 minutes of burn. Both Nash and the Lakers are still learning the Princeton offense so at the moment the results of these games don’t matter.
What does matter is that Metta World Peace looks like a new man. Coming off a career worst year it would have been no surprise had the Lakers amnestied the former Ron Artest. Instead the arrival of Nash combined with Metta arriving in shape has breathed new life into a floundering career.
Let’s hope that trend continues into the regular season.
One trend that wasn’t supposed to continue was Coach Brown handing out big minutes to his starters. This preseason was supposed to be about resting up for the regular season. Last night we saw Nash, Metta and Pau Gasol all play 25+ minutes with the Spaniard and World Peace putting in a good 30 minutes of work on the night.
Perhaps Coach Brown is already coming to terms with how thin the Lakers’ bench still is. In two preseason contests the Lakers depth has been exposed in embarrassing fashion. Antawn Jamison hasn’t looked all that comfortable in his new surroundings and no other man has put his best foot forward to win a roster spot amid the scrum between Earl Clark, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
One man that is stepping up is Devin Ebanks. The third year West Virginia alum had 10 points in 17 minutes of action as he makes his case for bouncing between backing up Metta and Kobe.
Of course before I get too carried away with bashing the second unit we should keep in mind that both Dwight Howard and now Jordan Hill look unlikely to play this preseason. Actually at this point Howard aka Iron Man is the odds on favorite to see preseason action. Both Laker bigs are bothered by bad backs with Hill’s not requiring surgery but it will need rest and rehabilitation.
Moving forward, the Lakers make their Staples Center debut against the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Kobe is expected to play in that contest so L.A. fans will get what Ontario missed.