The Lakers opened the game doing exactly what head coach Luke Walton’s been preaching all summer. They managed to turn multiple successful defensive possessions into multiple successful transition baskets, showing glimpses of being that fast-paced team that rattles opponents with pressure.
That faded away through the first half, though. It didn’t help that Larry Nance, Jr. (sprained right index fight) and Lonzo Ball (ankle tweak) found themselves going into halftime gimpy. Both players returned in the second half, but the momentum the team had built up to start the game had all but dissipated.
It was a late surge from Kyle Kuzma that had the Lakers back in a game they didn’t belong in in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. He once again led the team in scoring with 23 points, splashing four threes and showing no signs of stopping. So far, he’s been the biggest baller of the new campaign.
Ball had another so-so game, scoring eight points to go with four assists, two rebounds and four turnovers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope showed some of the defensive disruption the Lakers were hoping for, and tossed in 15 points to boot.
There was definite improvement from Game 1 to Game 2, but it’s clear the Lakers are going to need the rest of the month leading up to the regular season opener to continue inching toward the level they need to be at. Hopefully Brook Lopez can get on the floor soon, as his presence would help an offense that struggles once the brakes come on.
The Lakers get to take the lessons they learned from Monday night and apply them Wednesday in another meeting against the Nuggets. We should know more about the status of both Nance, Jr. and Ball in the next 24 hours as well.