The Los Angeles Lakers made their Staples Center preseason debut with a 101-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets. They didn’t always look right at home, especially as the reserves let the lead slip away in the fourth quarter, but an impressive 21-point outing from D’Angelo Russell was nearly enough to put the Lakers over the top.
Russell was clear and away the best Laker on the floor in his 24 minutes played Friday night, taking the opportunity to line up against fellow sophomore point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and establish himself. An eight-point flurry near the end of the first half was the defining moment of the game for D’Angelo, capping it off with a pull-up transition three that Steph Curry would approve of:
Brandon Ingram found his first buckets of preseason, throwing down a pretty lob from Marcelo Huertas. Jordan Clarkson had an excellent game off the bench, scoring 15 points with five steals to boot. Jordan showed great control getting into the paint and finishing through contact, a part of his game that can help him separate himself from the pack.
Metta World Peace played his first minutes of preseason and ended with a bagel in the scoring column, having a forgettable return. Nick Young replaced Metta in the second half and made two of his three attempts from downtown.
Will Barton led the Nuggets with 20 points, while rookie Jamal Murray looked comfortable putting in 18 points off the bench including the three that put the game on ice for Denver. The Nuggets out-rebounded the Lakers 60-47 with Jusuf Nurkic gobbling 14 boards. No Lakers broad double-digits in the rebounding column.
Overall it was an acceptable game from the Lakers projected to soak the majority of minutes, while the bottom end of the roster looked like the bottom end of the roster through the final quarter. The Lakers will get another crack at Denver on Sunday in Ontario.