The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets Sunday night in their preseason opener and, as you’d expect, some fans are freaking out.
That sentiment has by no means made its way into the locker room, however, which is really all that matters.
It should be pointed out that anyone actually taking anything away from the game is an extreme minority. Most fans understand that LeBron James only played in the first half and Lonzo Ball didn’t play at all. Still, the theme of patience was very present after the game.
“Of course you take something from it because we’ve been working on our habits for the first week, “James said to reporters after his preseason debut. “So it’s good to go against a different opponent instead of each other.”
James has on multiple occasions mentioned the patience he needs to have not only with his teammates but also himself. There are an insane amount of moving pieces the Lakers are trying to get a grasp of before the regular season kicks off, and getting frustrated this early in the process doesn’t really help anyone.
It should also be pointed out that Denver headed into that game with essentially the same roster they had last season. So, instead of implementing a new culture and system, they can focus on more on minor tweaks to improve from last year.
With that in mind, the result or the way the game went didn’t really surprise anyone, especially not the Lakers’ head coach.
“It’s kind of what I expected,” Luke Walton said. “We did some of the things we’ve been working on well, but we didn’t them for long enough periods of time. I liked the pace that we played with, I liked that we were moving the ball.”
The Lakers employ a ton of passers, and racked up 26 assists against Denver. For stretches of Sunday night, it was very clear that they were trying to find the balance between their own aggression and facilitating for others, leading to stretches of over- and under-passing, depending very highly on who was on the court.
“We’re trying to play fast,” Walton said. “We want to push it, the turnovers are going to come. But overall, I was pleased with the way we played for segments of that game, we just have to get more consistent in playing that way.
“This all takes time, we know that it does, so we’re fine and now we have tape that we can look at and break down and really get back to work tomorrow. We’re pretty far away [from where we want to be as a team].”
Throughout the offseason, the practice of watching film and learning from it has been a very obvious priority, especially for the young core. That everyone now has something closer to game film to watch — even if preseason is by no means nearly as competitive as a regular season game — and will turn right around and play the same team they have film on will help greatly moving forward.
No one summed up the game, and how seriously the Lakers should be taking it, better than Brandon Ingram, though, when he was asked to describe what the first preseason game looked like to him.
“It looked like the first preseason game,” Ingram said.