It was a tale of two halves Friday night in the Lakers final preseason game. The first half saw an energetic bench severely outshine the starting unit. The second half featured a far more lively starting unit pull away and the bench hang on late to give the Lakers the victory in the finale of the preseason.
Seven Lakers finished in double figures on the night with Steve Blake leading the way. Blake was unconscious in the 3rd quarter, finishing a perfect 7 of 7 on the night including 5 for 5 from deep, the last coming on a pull-up, contested three in transition late in the quarter. His great quarter was matched by the rest of the starters, featuring some dazzling passes by Steve Nash, who finished 7 points and 4 assists in 29 minutes. Pau Gasol had a very Pau-like game, tallying 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks.
The first half saw the starters plod their way through the game early on before the newest edition of the Bench Mob turned up the pace in the game. A 15-3 run by the second unit featured great leadership by Jordan Farmar and great defense and energy from the rest of the unit. When the Lakers starters re-entered the game, they held a 40-29 lead. That lead vanished in a heartbeat as the Jazz finished the quarter on a 24-12 run to take a 53-51 lead into halftime.
The third quarter saw a major role reversal as the starters played the entirety of the quarter and poured in 37 points. Nash wowed the fans with a nifty over the shoulder pass to Shawne Williams, was the recipient of a beautiful pass by Pau Gasol, and led a Laker starting squad that looked the best it had all preseason. In all, the three Lakers point guards – Nash, Blake, and Farmar – finished with 37 points, 14 assists, and shot 13 of 20 on the night.
Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson continued their great preseasons, finishing with 13 and 6 points respectively. Johnson pulled down 9 rebounds on the evening, further cementing himself as a rotation player and possible starter on the Lakers. Henry continued to display his impressive ability to get to the rim, shooting a team-high 8 free throws on the night.
The Lakers finished the preseason at 4-4. None of Ryan Kelly, Elias Harris, or Marcus Landry saw action on the night. All three are battling for the final roster spot, with none of them guaranteed a roster spot. Kaman sat out again due to an illness, but is expected to be ready for opening night.
The Lakers tip-off the regular Tuesday night at 10:30 when they take on their same city rivals in the Los Angeles Clippers.