The Lakers key starters only played in the first half, but they were in top form on Monday. James had 10 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds, Davis had nearly had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, and Reaves scored 18 points in his 20 minutes of play.
D’Angelo Russell was a flame thrower, going 4-5 from deep and adding 14 points of his own. Rui Hachimura was the super sub — with Taurean Prince getting the start — and Hachimura shined in that roll, ending the night with 19 points.
With the Lakers rolling out a possible opening-day lineup against Brooklyn, it was important for them to look good during the opening minutes. Davis didn't take long to make his presence known, blocking the first Nets shot attempt and dishing it to Reaves for a 3-pointer. Russell hit three straight treys and the Lakers' starters ended their first shift up 21-18 when Jaxson Hayes was subbed in for LeBron.
The Lakers were up by as many as eight, but the Nets went on an 8-0 run to close the gap, and Brooklyn took a one-point lead into the second quarter after former Laker Lonnie Walker IV knocked down a pair of free throws.
Our first look at LeBron and AD on the court with Christian Wood in the front court to start the 2nd Q, with Reaves and Vincent in the back court.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 10, 2023
First possession netted Reaves a layup off a nice set up from LeBron.
The Lakers continued experimenting with different lineups throughout the first half, going big with James, Davis and Christian Wood to start the second. This unit went on a 7-0 run and outscored Brooklyn 17-5 overall to regain the lead and control of the game. The Lakers' defense continued to smother the Nets as they cruised to a 75-61 advantage heading into the break.
With this being preseason, LeBron, Davis and Russell were done after the first half. The backup unit struggled in the third quarter, giving up much of the 14-point lead until coach Darvin Ham was forced to call a timeout to stop the bleeding at the 7:05 mark.
The rest of the quarter was wacky, with Cam Thomas and Reaves having a three-point contest midway through the frame (Thomas won 3-2 before he was subbed out), as defense continues to be optional in the preseason.
The baby Lakers got more run throughout the half. Max Christie stayed in foul trouble, picking up four in his first 12 minutes, but Jalen Hood-Schifino looked promising during his 15 minutes of play and Maxwell Lewis had a nice run in the fourth, ending the night going 4-5 from the field. And more importantly, he did his first “freeze” celebration of the preseason.
In the fourth, the young core closed the Nets out with a Lewis dunk, a D’Moi Hodge charge and a final Colin Castleton rebound at the buzzer to ensure the Lakers were going to leave Vegas a winner. A rare feat for any of us.
Caveat, caveat, caveat.
It’s just preseason, but tonight’s starting lineup looked great. The offense was electric and Prince was a strong defensive option, allowing Hachimura to come off the bench and be a scorer. Ham also went big with a Jaxson Hayes, Davis, James lineup and those were arguably the best defensive minutes of the night. With the key players absent in the second half, the score is irrelevant. The Lakers looked good when it mattered.
Now, the Lakers will prepare for another game on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings, but it won’t be in Sacramento or L.A., as the two teams will face off in Anaheim at the Honda Center. Fans can tune in at 7 p.m. PT on NBA TV.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.