Tuesday was the final game of the Lakers’ preseason. It took place in Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs and it was against a championship favorite, the Phoenix Suns. And the Suns ran in the third quarter and put it away, 123-100. Los Angeles ends the preseason in a 2-4 clip. But don’t worry, this won’t matter. Probably.
What will matter is the regular season, which starts on Tuesday, the 24th, against the reigning and defending NBA champions, Denver Nuggets. This was said to be a “dress rehearsal”, for all intents and purposes.
Now the starters were LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, and Taurean Prince. This is looking like the five that will open games unless we get a surprise before Tuesday. What we saw from these starters was pretty good. Davis blocked 5 shots in the first 8 minutes, which was absolutely ridiculous. LeBron James got in a bit of a scoring binge. Reaves was making threes. Russell continued to play well defensively and Taurean Prince stole a few balls.
What didn’t look good was when coach Darvin Ham put in his bench unit. With no playmaker on the floor, the game just kind of got away from them. We don’t think the Lakers will play this line-up in non-garbage time. Plus Gabe Vincent was out for this game (as well as Jarred Vanderbilt) and there’s no doubt we would see Gabe and one of the starters on the floor when it comes to the second team. But this unit just looked completely out of sync and it was really tearin’ up my heart.
Still, I did like what I saw from Jaxson Hayes, who continued to work well around the rim. Colin Castleton will be spending a lot more time in the G-League but I loved his hustle not just in this game but in the whole preseason. Max Christie will continue to grow his game, including his playmaking but he’s not quite there just yet as a primary playmaker.
The Suns didn’t have Devin Booker and Bradley Beal suited up but Kevin Durant did play in this game (though it’s preseason, it’s the first time LeBron and Durant were on the same court since Christmas 2018). Durant will be as dangerous as ever as he showed in his little playing time in this game. But no full preview with Booker and Beal out. The Lakers and Suns will get it on for real in a week’s time.
LeBron James finished with 19 points to lead the Lakers. Anthony Davis had 15 points and 6 blocks while Austin Reaves put in 14. Durant led the Suns with 21 points. Saben Lee came off the bench to score 17 while Yuta Watanabe had 12 points and Nassir Little had 11. Ex-Clipper and former 6th Man of the Year winner Eric Gordon started for Phoenix and scored 10.
I think we’re all ready for the Lakers to start their quest for Banner #18. We’ll have the first game preview early Tuesday as they will attempt to topple the champions that night to kick off the 2023-24 NBA season.