Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 100-95 preseason loss Tuesday to the Golden State Warriors at MasterCard Center:
1. Nick Young continues to light it up. Even if he just sat on the bench, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant received the loudest ovation here anytime he showed up on the jumbotron. That’s hardly surprising for a player who has built an intense following in China, namely through his star power, Nike marketing efforts and philanthropic projects. But even if Bryant couldn’t wow the crowd with his on-court performance, Young provided a perfect imitation of him.
Young’s 18 points performance on 7 of 10 shooting in 23 minutes captured his gun-slinging habits in every way imaginable. Young went 3 of 4 from behind the perimeter, many of them on step-back three-pointers. He drove to the basket with a lot of speed and purpose. Young even mixed it up on the first possession with Golden State’s Draymond Green. A few days after crashing his taboggan on his visit to the Great Wall of China, Young provided a great encore by entertaining on the court.
2. The Lakers’ point guard play looked stellar. On a night that Jordan Farmar missed his fourth consecutive game because of a strained right calf, Steve Nash and Steve Blake still held down the fort without extending too many minutes. On countless plays, Nash weaved through the defense, nailed step-back jumpers, and most importantly, showed that his sore left ankle looks healthy. Add it all up, and Nash posted eight points on 3 of 4 shooting and two assists in 18 minutes.
Blake showed his value in other ways. His pesky defense and pin-perfect cross-court pass set up an alley-oop lob to Xavier Henry. Blake thread the needle on a well-placed bounce pass to Jordan Hill, who failed to convert on the perfect setup with a missed layup. Blake’s 1 of 11 shooting in 18 minutes hardly made up for his 0 of 10 drought in the Lakers’ loss last week to Sacramento in Las Vegas. But Blake still kept the offense humming by dishing out eight assists. Not everything went according to plan, though. Blake committed a turnover and clanked a three-pointer in the final minutes as the Lakers trailed by single digits.
3. Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman continued their chemistry. In three consecutive starts, this duo has duplicated a few images. Connecting on high-to-low. The two hitting mid-range jumpers. The two always looking for each other inside and along the elbows. That’s why it should be hardly surprising to see the production behind Gasol (15 rebounds on 4 of 10 shooting, six rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes) and Kaman (14 points on 7 of 7 shooting, 10 rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes).
The pair might not always be the greatest when the Lakers need a defensive stop. But it’s clear that they are suited to start because their seamless chemistry will prove difficult to stop both with their versatile skillsets and floor spacing.
4. The Lakers had a fourth-quarter drought.The Lakers lost this in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors’ starters outscored the Lakers’ training camp invitees, 31-15. Golden State adopted this strategy since it has a younger roster, while the Lakers are intent on resting their veteran players. So there’s no need to really read much into this development.
5. Ryan Kelly makes his debut. After missing all of summer league and the beginning of training camp as he rehabbed his surgically repaired right foot, the Lakers’ second-round draft pick finally returned to the court. Kelly’s performance (six points on 2 of 5 shooting, three rebounds and one turnover) showed both potential and rustiness. Kelly showed some range on his shots and even took a Duke-style charge to force a Warriors turnover. But Kelly lost the ball and took a wild shot in the final minutes of a close game. It appears he can eradicate such miscues with more on-court time both to build his rhythm and team chemistry.
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