The preseason is typically used as a time for starters to get into playing shape and develop chemistry amongst one another. For the Lakers starters, the chemistry was certainly there. Unfortunately for their bench, it was non-existent. Despite the starters putting up 59 points on 22 made field goals and dishing their way to 12 assists, the Lakers were never competitive for most of the second half en route to a loss to Sacramento.
The ever-growing relationship between Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman seems to be hitting new levels on a game-to-game basis. The first play of the game saw Gasol find a wide open Kaman on a lob, which Kaman fundamentally finished. It wasn’t the first lob of the night between the two as each hit double figures on the night; Gasol with 13 points and and Kaman with 12 of his own. They weren’t the only starters to shine out as the perimeter for duo of Nick Young and Jodie Meeks did more than their fair share of work. Meeks struggled from deep, going 2 for 7, but still managed 19 points thanks to the free throw line and various finishes at the rim. Young had 17 of his own, his coming on 6 made field goals, nearly all of them patented Young contested, mid-range shots. In total, that quartet of players finished with 23 made field goals and 61 total points, a fair outing for a preseason contest.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, their bench hardly contributed.
Highlighted by Steve Blake’s 0 of 10 shooting night, the Lakers bench hardly slowed the Kings down on the night and certainly couldn’t score to keep pace with them. Only Shawn Williams and Darius Johnson-Odom made more than one field goal for the bench players, and only those two had more than 3 points. In total, the bench shot a putrid 6 of 37 from the field and 4 of 18 from deep. The bench played the majority of a second half that saw the Kings score 56 points and hold the Lakers to 36.
The same woes continue to haunt the Lakers throughout the preseason. The team still hasn’t shot over 40% from the field, got outrebounded 50-31, and showed a non-existent defense for most of the night, specifically the 3rd and 4th quarters. With the team headed to China for a week-long trip that has them play two games and just two games after that, the time is running out to find a solution.
Starting point guard Steve Nash saw just 9 minutes of action tonight before sitting out the rest of the night with a sore ankle. While the injury seemed non-urgent during the game, D’Antoni admitted after that it was something that could be reoccurring during the season, not a good sign for fans.
The Lakers leave for China tomorrow. They’ll have nearly a week before their next match-up when they play Golden State in Beijing at 4:30 AM Pacific/7:30 AM Eastern.