The Los Angeles Lakers took the court in their first preseason game on Sunday night against the Denver Nuggets in front of a San Diego crowd that showed up to support the purple & gold. The Lakers fell 124-107 to a Nuggets team that many expect to be in the playoffs in 2019.
Photo By: Gregory Bull, AP
The win or lost wasn’t Coach Luke Walton and the new Lakers main concern, but the way they would gel and if the work they have put in during training camp and the off-season paid off. The score didn’t go their way but they did take away a lot they can learn from moving forward.
The addition of LeBron James and the impact he will have on this team is inevitable.
James who played in just 15 minutes scoring 9 points is still in the stage where he is still trying to figure out his new teammates. Early in the game it seemed he and third year forward Brandon Ingram seemed to fit well together. Ingram seemed to look very comfortable playing alongside James as James heads up passing led to a few easy baskets for Ingram.
Ingram finished with 16 points making 7-14 from the field in 27 minutes.
First Team All-Rookie from a year ago and a fan favorite Kyle Kuzma came off the bench and played 24 minutes scoring 15 points but just making 4 of his 13 field goal attempts. He came out aggressive and the crowd picked up from a year ago with the “Kuz!” chant. Kuzma who got the opportunity to play center after some reps in practice went against Nikola Jokic a few possessions and may have a got a small sample of what it takes to go against some of the true big men at this level.
Kuzma said in a post-game interview that “it’s a learning process.”
Coach Walton also got his first look a couple of his newest Lakers Rajon Rondo who started in place of Lonzo Ball who was held out of this one to give him more time to recover from his knee injury scored just 2 points but dish out a game high 11 assist in 23 minutes.
Lance Stephenson who signed with Lakers after a coming over from the Indiana Pacers scored 12 points in 21 minutes and show flashes of the Lance Coach Walton and the Lakers will depend on during the season. Two-Time Champion Javale McGee who came over from the Golden State Warriors led the Lakers with 17 points and added 7 rebounds.
The Nuggets had seven players score in double figures. Second year point guard Jamal Murray scored with 18 points (8-12 FG) in 19 minutes. Nikola Jokic in just 21 minutes scored 14 points and was 8-8 from the free throw line. The Nuggets bench outscored the Lakers 76-61 with five Nuggets bench players in double figures. Juan Hernangomez led all scorers with 19 points in 23 minutes.
Lakers Next Game: Tuesday October 2nd vs Denver Nuggets