On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Lakers were finally able to beat an NBA team in the preseason -- at least sort of. The game was cancelled in the third quarter because the surface of the court was slipperty and too dangerous for the teams to continue playing on. Nonetheless, the Lakers were able to escape San Diego with a 85-70 "win" over the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
It was quite the performance for Julius Randle as he took it to Draymond Green. After scoring on the Defensive Player of the Year candidate a few times, Randle shouted "He can't guard me!" The Kentucky product finished with 14 points in 12 minutes. Jordan Clarkson added 17 points, Anthony Brown got another start, D'Angelo Russell was reinserted into the starting lineup, Marcelo Huertas made his Lakers debut and threw dime after dime, and Larry Nance, Jr. nearly killed Festus Ezeli.
We can only hope that Monday's game at Staples Center against the Portland Trail Blazers is half as eventful.
These aren't the same Blazers we were accustomed to seeing in the past few seasons. LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum and Robin Lopez are gone, and they now have one of the youngest rosters in the Western Conference. The Blazers' starting five appears to be Meyers Leonard, Mason Plumlee, C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Damian Lillard, but with the team on the second game of a back-to-back (those exist in preseason?) it wouldn't be surprising to see a few of them sit out. Maybe we'll even get to see former Laker Ed Davis start in his return to Staples Center. In any event, if you care about wins and losses in the preseason, this is certainly a game the Lakers have a great chance of winning.
However, the major storyline from this game is that it will be the final game before roster cuts are made, as Byron said the team will trim the roster before the preseason finale on Friday. With Saturday's game being cut short, we should expect to see the players on the bubble receive more playing time than usual to make up for the lost time. The players in need most of a standout performance are Jabari Brown, Michael Frazier II, and Jonathan Holmes. It wouldn't hurt for Robert Upshaw to have another solid game either, but I think he's done enough to prove he's worth a roster spot, perhaps at the expense of Robert Sacre.
Injury-wise, the Lakers come into this game pretty healthy. Huertas' return leaves just Lou Williams and Kobe Bryant on the injury report. Williams was once reported to be out, but then was listed as probable later on, so expect him to suit up. On the flip side, Kobe is unlikely to play as he continues to recover from a calf contusion and could be held out for the rest of the preseason.
With Kobe out again, it seems likely that the Lakers will go with the same starting five as last game -- Clarkson, Russell, Anthony Brown, Randle, and Roy Hibbert. It's an extremely young starting five, but an interesting one as well. It could very well be the Lakers' starting lineup of the future, and in addition to the expected roster cuts, it makes this game much more intriguing than a normal preseason game.
Time: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: NBATV, TWCSN