Big men lead Lakers to second preseason win

All off-season long, Lakers fans heard and spoke of how great Pau Gasol would play this year as the premier big man in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Gasol proved everyone right Tuesday night as he spearheaded a Lakers offense that featured beautiful ball movement and great team play en route to a 90-88 victory. Gasol’s 14 points led the way for the Lakers starters and his 8 rebounds were second most for the squad. Chris Kaman and Gasol played together for the first time this preseason and gelled perfectly as Kaman finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds himself.

Oct 8, 2013; Ontario, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Chris Kaman (9) dunks the ball against the Denver Nuggets at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers led big early on, stretching their lead to over 20 points in the first half. But a second-half run by the Nuggets not only closed the gap, but gave Denver a brief lead late in the fourth quarter. Steve Blake’s two free throws with 46 seconds remaining helped the Lakers recapture that lead, only to have Anthony Randolph give Denver the lead back after a couple free throws of his own. Two Robert Sacre freebies put the purple and gold back on top with 28 seconds left and two key defensive stops to end the game handed the Lakers their second preseason victory. Blake led the way for the Lakers with 15 points.

 

The much-heralded trio of Gasol, Kaman, and Steve Nash did not fail to impress, dazzling fans with an array of crisp passes. Their chemistry was never more evident than on an early first-quarter play when Pau slipped a ball screen for Nash, who found Kaman in the high-post, where the newly acquired big man immediately hit the cutting Gasol for a dunk. Gasol returned the favor on numerous occasions as four of Kaman’s first five field goals made were dunks, many set up by Gasol himself. Nash was up to old tricks, highlighted by his no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to a cutting Kaman, who slammed it home. The trio combined for 30 points, 10 assists, and 17 rebounds and left Lakers fans buzzing.

 

The bench also contributed in a big way tonight. Other than Blake’s big outing, Jordan Hill and Shawne Williams each had solid showings. Hill led all players with 12 rebounds, which he gathered in just 19 minutes. Williams knocked down a couple outside shots – finishing with 8 points – but more importantly, played solid defense. Nick “Swaggy P” Young found his way into the highlight reel as he set up big man Chris Kaman with two open dunks off nice assists. He still finished with 10 points on 10 shots, an efficient night for Young.

 

Denver was held to 31 first half points and trailed by 17 at the break. But a mixture of quirky lineups and bad offense let the Nuggets get back into the game and nearly pull out a victory. In a scene reminiscent of last year’s late playoff run, the Lakers used hard-earned points down the stretch, timely defensive stops, and a little bit of luck to secure the victory. After starting the game with 15 assists on their first 20 made field goals, the ratio dropped dramatically in the second half as the team finished with just 19 assists on 30 made field goals.

 

The team will next be in action Thursday when they take on Shaq’s Sacramento Que….Kings in Las Vegas at 10 PM Eastern, 7 PM Pacific.

Topics: Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Nick Young, Pau Gaso, Shawne Williams, Steve Nash

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