The Los Angeles Lakers opened their season with a loss on the road against the Golden State Warriors. The team had to wait patiently as the 2022 champions received their rings in a lengthy ceremony. A game not very indicative of the close final score raised a lot of questions about the process and lineups the team decided on.
Head coach Darvin Ham elected to go small and start Patrick Beverley at the small forward spot, with Lonnie Walker IV and Russell Westbrook surrounding the stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After a close first quarter, the Warriors turned it up in the second and third, leading by as much as 27 at one point.
Beverley picked up quick fouls at every turn, forcing the Lakers to insert another small guard Kendrick Nunn in his place. The small ball lineups struggled to get stops, as the Warriors wings had no problems shooting right over the top of them. Andrew Wiggins was consistent all game, going 8-for-14 from the field and getting to his spots. Klay Thompson took over in the third, shooting over Nunn as if he was nonexistent. The Warriors motion offense will give most teams fits, but the size discrepancy was a glaring issue all night.
The Lakers compounded the issue of being small by not knocking down shots on the opposite end. They finished the first half an abysmal 3-for-21 from downtown. Coach Ham started searching for answers, even entering the late-signed shooter Matt Ryan into the ball game. The Warriors were disrespectful all night to the Lakers shooters, keeping every defender with a foot in the paint at all times. It closed off driving lanes for Westbrook, James, and Davis, baiting them into settling from the outside.
Damian Jones, who was seen as a pivotal big man piece, collected a DNP-CD despite the absence of Thomas Bryant, losing even the backup center spot to Wenyen Gabriel. It represents a shift into a full-time small ball team, with Davis at the center and a cast of guards to fill the rotation.
On this week’s episode of “I Love Basketball”, Raj and Sabreena debate whether the Lakers should return to the two big lineups and dive into the upcoming rough schedule ahead.
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And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.