The Lakers took home the victory in their preseason debut against the Golden State Warriors Saturday night in Ontario, California. Although it was just a preseason game and it was played incredibly sloppily throughout (43 combined turnovers), it’s a pretty big win for a Lakers team missing their two best players, playing against a fully healthy Western Conference contender this season.
Xavier Henry had 29 points for the Lakers, Nick Young had 17 points, and Chris Kaman had a double-double in their Lakers debuts. Klay Thompson led the scoring effort for the Warriors, putting up 26 points in a game-high 38 minutes. The purple and gold used a strong fourth quarter to pull ahead of the Warriors to start the season on the right foot.
What Went Well:
- In Xavier Henry’s Lakers debut, he seemed to make everything. Everything. Acrobatic lay-ups, pull-up jumpers, and-one lay-ups, 44-foot half court heaves. You know, the usual. I kid, of course. Henry’s 29 points leave any other NBA game he’s ever had in the dust. The Lakers signed him to add some more defensive depth to a team that currently is unsure of the word’s definition, but with performances like he had last night, Henry could make the regular season roster for a different reason.
- Perimeter defensive struggles were a recurring theme last season with the Lakers, so against the dead-eye Warriors, fans prepared for the worst. The Lakers fared pretty well in this regard, actually. The Warriors shot 5-for-21 from beyond the arc for the game and Stephen Curry was held to 0-for-4. I was especially impressed by Jordan Farmar’s three-point defense throughout the game. He didn’t seem to give anyone a great look.
- The Lakers are going to miss Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace for a variety of reasons, primarily defense, but the Lakers certainly won’t be missing them for one thing: Free throw shooting. The Lakers were 30th in the NBA in free throw shooting, which is especially devastating considering that they led the league in free throw attempts. On Saturday, the Lakers shot 80 percent (28-for-35) from the charity stripe. In the regular season last year, they had 21 games in which they took at least 33 free throw attempts. In not a single one of those games did they make 80 percent or better.
What Did Not Go Well:
- The Lakers got out-rebounded 52-44, which is a tad concerning. Andrew Bogut wrecked the Lakers in the brief time he played, snagging 12 boards (5 offensive) in just 17 minutes of play. This issue should improve once Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant–two superb rebounders for their respective positions–return to the lineup.
- 29. That’s how many fast break points the Lakers gave up on Saturday, including 17 in the first half when the Warriors starters played. This was an issue for the Lakers last season and it continued Saturday. Many of the points came off of turnovers, which I won’t harp on too much this early in the year, but several others came off of rebounds or in-bounds passes. Those are the ones that are inexcusable. It’s hard enough to win consistently in the NBA as it is. By giving up free points due to laziness or carelessness, it becomes even harder.
Number of the Night:
1079. It had been that many days since the Lakers last won a preseason game. Last season, they infamously began the year by going 0-8 in the preseason and the season before they lost both of their exhibition games in a lock-out shortened preseason. The top performer for the Lakers in that preseason game? Shannon Brown, who had 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Yeesh.
The Lakers head back into the city of Los Angeles for a Sunday night match-up at the Staples Center with the Denver Nuggets, led by new head coach Brian Shaw. The game will be airing nationally at 6:30 PT on NBATV. As a reminder, the Lakers regular season begins October 29 against the Clippers on TNT.