After leading through three quarters, the Lakers lost to the Suns in their second preseason game of the year on Wednesday, 119-115. LeBron James was dominant, scoring all 23 of his points in the first half before sitting for the second half. Kendrick Nunn added 21 points, Russell Westbrook had 12 and Dwayne Bacon chipped in 11 in his first preseason action of the year.
Taking place in Las Vegas, the Lakers put on a show in the first half, flying up and down the court and leading nearly throughout. For the second game running, the youngest Lakers on the roster took over in the 3rd and 4th quarters and let the lead slip as Phoenix continued its recent dominance over the Lakers.
As was the case on Monday, here’s a look at the three most notable takeaways in lieu of a moment-by-moment recap of a preseason game.
LeBron is warmed up
I can’t imagine anyone was earnestly worried at LeBron’s 0-fer performance in the preseason opener on Monday. LeBron assuaged any fears and continued being a marvel by scoring 23 points in 17 first-half minutes, going 8-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from the 3-point line.
Last preseason, it was a lot of the Lakers looking bad and LeBron and the veterans telling us why things are actually fine. This preseason, LeBron and the Lakers have shown us multiples times they’ll be a better team than last year.
Russ continues to look strong
While it wasn’t as loud as LeBron’s first half, Russ also had a strong showing of his own in the opening two frames. He finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists in about 18 first-half minutes.
Unlike LeBron, Russ did play in the third quarter but the second halves of the opening two preseason games have felt much less intense and his time in third quarter was rather short. But in the first half, Russ benefitted from having more space to operate with the Lakers going small and Wenyen Gabriel able to space out at times, too.
He still had some moments that looked a lot like last year, including silly turnovers and layups left short, but when he has more space to operate, there’s still some positives from Russ. He also picked a hell of a night to do it, too.
And the Lakers go small to optimize Russ lol https://t.co/Bfi3b068lt— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 6, 2022
Austin Reaves needs to be a starter
The Lakers debuted a new starting lineup on Wednesday with Austin Reaves and Patrick Beverley stepping into the backcourt alongside Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, though AD would be a late scratch with lower back tightness.
But Reaves absolutely seized his opportunity, stuffing the box score with six points, seven rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks while missing just one of his field goal attempts. While he will still need to showcase an improved 3-point shot, his playmaking was evident and, more importantly, the energy he and PatBev brought to the starting group was noticeable.
It also shouldn’t go without noting that Kendrick Nunn, who started in Game 1 and came off the bench in Game 2, was lights out with 21 points in 19 minutes and looked mighty comfortable in a sixth man role.