Despite a fun fourth-quarter rally from the bench unit, the Lakers lost for the fourth time in five preseason games on Wednesday, 118-113. Putrid shooting from the outside for the first three quarters — which were played by the Lakers starters and rotation players — proved a hole too big to climb out of.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis both looked tremendous once again on the night while four of the five Lakers starters reached double figures. But for most of those three quarters, and for the entirety of the third period itself, the Lakers trailed to a Timberwolves team without two of its best players.
Alas, it was a comeback that came up short in the fourth quarter despite some fun moments and nearly three big free throws from Cole Swider in the final seconds.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the game.
A first look at the starting lineup?
The Lakers had another new-look lineup on the court on Wednesday but this represents the closest look at the real starting lineup that we’ve seen to date. The Lakers Big Three of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were joined by Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV.
PatBev potentially being in the starting lineup isn’t much of a surprise given his 3-and-D abilities. The fifth player on the court has felt like less of a certainty but Walker made a heck of a case...assuming he’s healthy. Before exiting the game due to a sprained ankle in the third quarter, Walker had 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 19 minutes.
That fifth spot is pretty flexible with the need for shooting and defense whether via a center, forward or guard. But Walker showed a lot of positive signs on Wednesday and, hopefully, can return to that lineup soon.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James look ready
The game had an odd feel to it for most of the night (more on that shortly) but AD and LeBron looked terrific yet again. Statistically, LeBron led the team with 25 points while AD chipped in 19 while playing 25 and 27 minutes, respectively. AD grabbed 13 rebounds, LeBron had 11 and the pair had six combined assists.
Now, the caveat is it came against a Timberwolves frontcourt that did not feature either of Karl-Anthony Towns or Rudy Gobert. But this is also LeBron and AD continuing their strong play throughout the preseason. There are plenty of other issues around the edges of LeBron and AD, but if those two are playing at this level, the team will have a chance on most nights this year.
A bad vibes kind of night
Look, the vibes were weird in this game. You could pretty easily write it off as it being the fifth game of the preseason, an already large amount of preseason games even before Friday’s finale. But something just felt odd about this game, maybe highlighted most statistically by their abysmal 10-of-38 shooting from the arc, a number that improved drastically in the fourth quarter when reserves were in.
And then there was this.
It's the preseason and I don't read much into anything. But if I were to read too much into something.......... pic.twitter.com/Hgcb91PNu5— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) October 13, 2022
I’m not going to overreact to a preseason loss, especially not one in which LeBron and AD looked this good. And as so many people kindly pointed out in my mentions, Russ was apparently talking to the referee in that clip just off screen.
But the Lakers have hardly earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to bad vibes over the last year. Here’s to this being a one-game blip early in the Darvin Ham Era.