Lakers Show Potential in Dominant Victory over Maccabi Haifa


At first blush, the Lakers runaway victory over a team from Israel without NBA-caliber players is not noteworthy. Then again, for a franchise looking for positive signs and trying to build a measure of confidence, perhaps this game was just what the doctor ordered after three straight preseason losses.

Everything clicked for the team in Sunday night’s game.

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  • There was Kobe Bryant 21 points in limited minutes, most of which were easy catch and shoot buckets. There were Roy Hibbert’s 16 rebounds and 3 blocks, along with D’Angelo Russell’s 11 assists.

    For a night, even Ryan Kelly and Nick Young couldn’t miss, and Lou Williams continued his strong play.

    In an effort to explore options for the uncertain small forward position, Anthony Brown started, and while he made only one shot, Byron Scott said afterwards that Brown played a strong game on defense.

    Jordan Clarkson was Clarkson, always in attack mode and making shots from both inside the paint and on the perimeter.

    Then there was Julius Randle, who continues to play on both ends of the court precisely as the front office always dreamed. At this point, Randle is starting to look like a potential All-Star.

    As the team starts to take shape there are a few issues which should not get lost in the euphoria of a solid victory. The team committed 22 turnovers, many of which were the result of sloppy, lazy passes.

    The Lakers will have little margin for error this season, and reducing the number of turnovers per game will be essential if they want to exceed what the pundits expect of them.

    In regards to the competition for the final guard spot on the team, the battle between Jabari Brown and Michael Frazier II has been a dud thus far. When afforded the opportunity to play, neither has impressed. Brown looks like he is pressing, playing with less confidence than last year and Frazier has been lackluster on the court.

    Likewise, there are no clear front runners in the competition to back up Hibbert in the middle. Tarik Black, Robert Sacre, and Robert Upshaw have all played so sparingly that it has been hard for any of them to show much.

    Black played in the first and fourth games only. Sacre played in the first two contests but not at all in the last two. Upshaw did not play until the third game and then played just a few minutes during garbage time at the end of the most recent contest.

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    Black is too undersized to play the center position, but he makes up for it by playing hard and with a lot of energy.

    If he is paired with Brandon Bass in the second unit, they could be able to get the job done up-front together in tandem.

    That leaves Sacre and Upshaw.

    To most Lakers fans this is no contest, but Coach Scott may have other plans. He was bizarrely critical of Upshaw after he played for the first time against a good Raptors team and had some highlight moments.

    On the other hand, he spoke more highly of Jonathan Holmes, who in four games has played only one quarter, during which he looked nervous and did little.

    Additionally, after Sunday’s night’s game, he did nothing but praise Brown, who made one basket, missed some others badly and he continues to praise Russell whose play has been sporadic to say the least.

    This should be cause for concern, considering last year when Scott gave big minutes to the underachieving duo of Sacre and Kelly, while Ed Davis, who was probably the team’s best player until the emergence of Clarkson, sat on the bench more often than not.

    Despite these concerns, hopefully the Lakers’ strong showing against the Israeli team was a genuine sign that the team is improving.

    The competition is about to heat up as their next two contests are against an improved Sacramento Kings squad and the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

    Following those two games fans should get a better idea of the team’s overall standing as they get closer to the start of the regular season.

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