The main goal for every NBA team in the preseason is usually pretty simple: Start to shake the rust off, and get through it unscathed by injuries. The Lakers haven’t completely cleared the latter bar — Alex Caruso has missed two games to be cautious with a hip injury that isn’t thought to be serious, and Dennis Schröder suffered a minor ankle sprain that he says isn’t that bad — but in the plus column, Anthony Davis and LeBron James both made it through their preseason debuts healthy, and Davis says he’s feeling better than he even expected.
“I felt great, honestly.” Davis told reporters after the 112-107 win. “You know, coming in, I thought I was gonna be a little winded. You can try to get in shape all you want, but it’s nothing like basketball shape and game shape. So, I was kind of hesitant about that, but I felt fine.
“I could have played more. I’m probably going to play more Friday. But I felt physically fine.”
That part about Friday is notable, and is something Frank Vogel suggested the other day at practice as well, hinting that the Lakers will treat that game as some sort of dress rehearsal, with potentially most of their regular season starters playing at least a shift or two in each half as the team looks to get its new rotation used to playing together. And if that happens, well, get ready for a couple more glimpses at how good this Lakers team can be when it turns on the clamps, the result of which is basketball so obscenely good that it borders on pornographic:
There are few scarier sights in the NBA than the Los Angeles Lakers locking in on defense: pic.twitter.com/V50VONkGMa— Brian Horton-Tucker Morant (@RunTheJules) December 17, 2020
Two way play pic.twitter.com/CkiC8Fe4cj— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) December 17, 2020
Now, do I think the Lakers will do that all game? Absolutely not. I don’t even think they’ll do it all regular season, much less for the majority of a preseason game. Still, this team can be really special when they lock in, so any chance to watch them do so — even for a few possessions — is appointment viewing. And hey, this is the last completely stress free game to just enjoy this team playing basketball without worrying about the result. There are worse ways to spend a Friday night during lockdown.
Notes and Updates
- It the NBA has approved an increase to active rosters on game nights from 13 to 15 players for this season, meaning that the Lakers may have more guys they can go to as they look to stay healthy and keep minutes down on a night-to-night basis this season. They also finalized the trade deadline and voted to keep the coaches challenge.
The NBA has also announced that the trade deadline is March 25, and that active rosters can go from 13 to 15 players on game days.— TV's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 17, 2020
- Kyle Kuzma says he has “no idea” what his role will be this season, which... doesn’t sound ideal!
- On the bright side, though, the mythical exploits of Talen Horton-Tucker keep expanding, which is exciting news as we watch to see if he can earn a role in this team’s rotation.
- On the bookkeeping front, Alfonzo McKinnie did not play in Wednesday night’s game, but has officially joined the team for the first time this season and was on the bench for that matchup. He is theoretically available to play on Friday, but given how much of training camp he’s missed, it remains to be seen if he’ll actually get in.
The Lakers and Suns will tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT on Friday, and the game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet and nationally on ESPN.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.