The Los Angeles Lakers may have already donned golden home jerseys, but their game against the Golden State Warriors will be the first in Staples Center. Kobe Bryant makes his triumphant return to Los Angeles, while Julius Randle and the many new faces of the Lakers take their new home floor for the first time.
Preseason got off to a great start for Los Angeles as they picked up a win and sprinkled some optimism to start exhibition play. Kobe needed a single shot to shake the rust off and get back to business, scoring 13 points and dazzling San Diego with an array of turnarounds and fadeaways. The Warriors will be a great benchmark for the Lakers' defense, an area Byron Scott has deemed the focal point for his first campaign as mayor of Lakerland.
Golden State will push the pace and play the kind of shot-happy basketball Scott can use as a measuring stick for his squad. Training camp has been all about conditioning and defense for Los Angeles. Nearly every quote is about running and "playing on a string" and there's been an endless stream of "here are the Lakers running" Vines posted on the Lakers' social media streams. This is a great chance to put it all to the test, which is what preseason is all about.
Scott stuck to a tight rotation, playing 11 players in San Diego. Randle, Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson each logged 27 minutes, and will likely continue seeing the brunt of preseason minutes as Scott evaluates the roster. Expect the same starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill as well.
Back-to-back preseason wins would be nice, but ultimately the record doesn't matter. Seeing the team progress is what counts, and there's plenty to keep an eye out for in this one. Can Kobe build on the sizzling outing he returned with? Will Randle play harder for longer stretches, as Scott demanded of him following their win Monday? Will Jeremy Lin set a trend as the team's leading facilitator, and will Ed Davis continue benefiting from the delicious dimes? Is Jordan Clarkson going to be able to shake away a tough 3-for-13 debut and get into a groove with an opportunity to earn minutes?
There's a lot to learn about this Lakers team. For now, it's nice to take it one game at a time, something like the calm before the storm. Enjoy Game 2 of the preseason, and welcome home, Lakers.
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT