The Los Angeles Lakers get a mulligan against the Utah Jazz after getting waxed by the only team that finished below them last season just a few days ago. Kobe Bryant put up 23 shots and finished with 27 points, and the rest of the Lakers looked out of sync. Their defense, which has been the focal point of Byron Scott's first training camp as head coach, has looked horrific.
The offense has looked equally rough, if not worse, though. Sure, the team is missing a handful of key players, but the scheme has looked broken which is cause for concern. Not just settling, but gunning for long-twos, is disastrous without the proper spacing to create clean looks. The Lakers have aboslutely no floor spacing right now. This is a problem.
Los Angeles hasn't made a three-point attempt in back-to-back preseason games, and have attempted just eight attempts from beyond the arc in that span. It's hard to create three-point shots when key dribble penetrators and shot creators are out, but there still has to be some kind of effort to make it happen. Opponents can just pack in mid-range and in the paint without the threat of outside shooting.
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Speaking of effort, Scott has been quick to point to effort as one of the reasons the Lakers have struggled, directly singling out Julius Randle in at least two of their four exhibition games. Randle played minimally Thursday, sitting out the entire second half after leaving the second quarter early to have his feet re-taped because of blisters. Scott reiterated the importance of their lottery rookie to play "longer and harder," which seems like a difficult thing to do if you aren't even in the game.
Jeremy Lin will not return Sunday despite optimism he could play after spraining his ankle, and Xavier Henry is heading to Germany to undergo Regenokine treatment along with a second opinion on his knee. Ryan Kelly could make his preseason debut, however, which could help some of the Lakers' three-point shooting woes. The Lakers are a bit jammed at power forward, so it'll be interesting to see how Scott handles the rotation if Kelly is ready to play.
Another preseason game, another chance to show some progress. Let's see if the Lakers can put it together after three straight frustrating losses.
Time: 6:30 p.m. PT