The process always matters more than the results when it comes to the preseason in the NBA, and the process that led to the Lakers 123-97 loss to the Nets on Sunday left everyone from stars like Anthony Davis to coaches like Frank Vogel displeased.
The final score was a bit deceiving, as the fourth quarter was played out nearly exclusively by end of the bench players and the final members of each team’s respective roster. However, there was more than enough through the first three quarters for the Lakers to focus on cleaning up in the coming week of practice.
“Oh we’re way behind,” Anthony Davis said. “Getting movement on offense, quality shots. Defensively — talking, getting our schemes right. Rebounding — very huge — we’re not boxing out. And that was the main takeaway. The offense will come. We’re not too worried about it, especially when we get Bron, Melo, (Ariza), Russ out there. But it was the first game to see where we are, and we have to do a better job defensively, especially blocking out.”
As Davis noted, the exclusion of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza certainly led to complications, perhaps none more so than the team’s lack of power forwards after Davis went to the bench for the rest of the game after the first quarter. Still, the Nets finished with a 54-41 advantage on the glass, including a 11 offensive rebounds.
“There’s a lot of areas we can get better,” said veteran center Dwight Howard. “I think we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds. That was key tonight. That won’t happen. Like I said, it’s the first game. We’ll be a lot better. It’s no need to panic or anything.”
Rebounding wasn’t the only area needing improvement. Without James and Westbrook, who will dominate the ball throughout the season, the Lakers’ offense lacked ball movement throughout the day.
Vogel noted the struggles offensively, while also acknowledging one of the positives of the night in rim protection as the Lakers finished with six blocks, half of those coming from new signee DeAndre Jordan.
“There’s a million little details we talk about every day,” Vogel said. “As expected, some were good, some were not. I think we played with pretty good pace. I liked the rim protection of DeAndre and Dwight and AD when they were out there. Having that type of length is going to be really beneficial to our defense this year. I just think we forced a little bit offensively. We only had 17 assists, so we didn’t play the pass enough but, overall, pretty good things.”
Los Angeles finished with just 17 assists on 32 made field goals, short of the 60.7% assist percentage the team sported last season.
The good news for the Lakers is that Sunday was one game, and the first game at that. Though there are no guarantees on who will be available in the team’s upcoming game on Wednesday, it’s likely the team will have a more focused effort on multiple fronts after their displeasure with Sunday’s process and result.