First, the good news.
Dwight Howard looked good in his debut tonight. And we’re not talking preseason good. DH12 is regular season ready having logged 33 minutes of burn and posting a healthy 19 and 12 double-double.
Now, the bad news.
Mike Brown wanted to win tonight…badly. Coach Brown let all of his starters play 30+ minutes and each one of them was in the game until the bitter end. That made no difference as the Sacramento Kings overcame a double-digit halftime deficit closing this one on a 10-0 run in the fourth for a 99-92 W.
Down the stretch we saw many of the same mistakes the Lake Show made late in games last season. Kobe Bryant took an ill-advised three. Steve Nash missed badly on a floater in the lane. Pau Gasol got caught flat-footed by DeMarcus Cousins at a very crucial moment. Overall the Lakers racked up 23 costly turnovers. That cannot and should happen with Nash playing quarterback.
Hate to give a preseason game a regular season critique but this game felt nothing like the previous 5 losses the Lakers have suffered through in this warm-up period.
Sacramento didn’t play their starters for nearly the minutes the Lakers did and still this loss occurred. That is concerning. We know this is a process but right now the Lakers are behind schedule in their tune up. With or without Howard a team playing its starters for big minutes in the preseason should win going away. Instead this one was a nail biter that turned into another drama-less loss.
Coach Brown’s bench is still nowhere near championship form. Not really a surprise that Brown continues to shorten his rotation with each passing preseason game.
What was very surprising was to see how immediate the Dwight Howard effect kicked in. We saw Iron Man looking very comfortable in the pick and roll. He was a force on the glass and a presence in the paint. As these guys get more comfortable with each other improvements will come. Kobe left Nash out to dry with a lazy pass that caused the Canadian to tweak his ankle. Plays like that will hopefully never happen again. It’s all part of the process and tonight we at least got an inspired effort from start to finish and…oh, yeah, our first glimpse of Dwight Howard.