It was game 1 of 8 for the Lakers this preseason, though the purple and gold looked like they were already in mid-season form.
Starting off in the first minutes of the game where Kobe Bryant scored his first basket in around 10 months using his patented fade away cheetah-like jump shot, to Julius Randle’s big dunk near the end of the game, the Lakers were looking pretty good down in San Diego.
The Black Mamba looked like vintage Kobe. Nash looked like Nash of old. Jeremy Lin was throwing dimes all over the court and finished with 10 assists. Jordan Hill picked up where he left off and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson came off the bench and showed his aggression while also making a case for minutes this season by scoring with 14 points. The seventh overall pick, Mr. Julius Randle, was also very impressive in his NBA debut with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
However, one player who really caught my eye was Ed Davis, who was an under the radar signing for the purple and gold this summer. The 25-year-old had a very strong outing, potentially showing that he may be the Lakers’ shot stopper down in the paint with 4 blocks in just 12 minutes.
Despite all of the other impressive showings, Kobe Bryant was still the main attraction.
The 36-year-old played great in his first game back. He was diving for loose balls, being the playmaker that he can be and being the scorer he always has been, too.
From the outside looking in, you wouldn’t know Kobe was coming off two major injuries. In fact, after the game, Bryant even stated that he feels great and hasn’t felt this healthy in years.
You could see by the way that the team was playing that they have already bought into Byron Scott’s system and enjoy playing with each other. They already have a bond together as a team, which surely will grow as the season continues.
As we all know, Scott’s focus for this Lakers team is on the defensive end, and they held their own tonight by limiting the Nuggets to 38.7 percent shooting from the field. However, the Nuggets were also awarded 44 free throws.
That shows the Lakers were a bit too aggressive on the defensive end (or maybe the referees were just a little rusty – it is the preseason, after all) which is good as it shows they are putting forth the effort on D.
All in all, the Lakers played great as a team and start the preseason 1-0. Their next game is set for 7:30 pm Pacific Time on Thursday at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors.
Ross Pickering contributed to this report.