It may just be preseason, but the Lakers are back. Unfortunately, with LeBron James and Austin Reaves sitting out, they were unable to beat the Golden State Warriors, losing 125-108 in San Francisco to start their 2023 preseason.
But while the result was negative, there were still some positives for the Lakers, especially when considering the final score didn’t matter. Anthony Davis was elite, scoring 15 points and 5 rebounds in his 13 minutes of play, and fellow starter D’Angelo Russell ended the night with 15 points. Second-year guard Max Christie heated up in the second half to finish the night with 15 points of his own.
The opening frame was as competitive as a preseason game is going to be. Golden State started their best five available without Draymond Green, and L.A. was aggressively running their offense through Davis, resulting in AD having 15 points in the first quarter.
But mid-way through the frame, the Lakers’ bench unit of Christie, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Christian Wood, Cam Reddish and Taurean Prince struggled massively as the Warriors closed the quarter on a 14-4 run to hold a six-point advantage.
Davis found his 3-point stroke in the second, hitting back-to-back treys, but the Warriors starters were running the Lakers off the court as their lead ballooned to as many as 18.
However, thanks to a sharp first-half performance from Russell (15 points on 6-10 shooting), the Lakers rallied back and cut the deficit back down to half a dozen at the half. It would’ve been a one-possession game, but D-Lo’s last-second buzzer-beater was somehow ruled late... despite the referees also ruling that the final few seconds of the half had to be replayed after halftime.
If only this counted...— NBA (@NBA) October 8, 2023
D'Angelo Russell with the wild shot from beyond half court pic.twitter.com/wq0JNqaJpZ
It’s preseason for everyone.
After a solid first half of work, Davis and Russell were done for the night. The rest of the game was essentially just a run for the backups and the young Lakers like Christie and Hood-Schifino. Christie caught momentum running the point and attacking the basket, and Hood-Schifino had a mixed performance with an airball and a blocked shot but improved as the game went along, ending the night with 7 points.
In the closing quarter, Prince ended his Lakers debut fouling out after mustering only two points in his 13 minutes of play (he, bizarrely, had five fouls in his first eight minutes in the first half), and the rest of the fourth was extended garbage time that saw Golden State coast to victory.
The results don’t matter, but what does is how good Davis played. He looked like the best two-way player on the floor, and with all the training camp talk that he is now the leader of the team, this was a good sign that he is ready to take on that label and all that comes with it.
The Lakers will continue the preseason on Monday, when they’ll face the Brooklyn Nets in Las Vegas at 6 p.m. PT on NBA TV. Let’s see if LeBron and Reaves make their preseason debuts then.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.