Below is a running diary of L.A.’s final preseason contest against Sacramento on Thursday night in San Diego, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Ebanks, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Kings: I. Thomas, T. Evans, J. Johnson, J. Thompson, D. Cousins
7:30 The Lakers haven’t been the most enthusiastic team in the NBA to be playing preseason games, with the young Kings taking advantage to start out on a 10-2 run, broken by an 18-foot jumper from … Dwight Howard. Howard’s been working on that shot in practice, but you won’t see him take many in the regular season.
0:00 Sacramento continued to be the more aggressive team as the quarter continued, allowing a 23-14 lead before two Gasol free throws got the Spaniard on the board. Gasol isn’t the biggest fan of preseason himself, preferring to focus on getting his body in the best condition possible heading into games that count (plus playing a team-high 36 minutes the night before), but he was responsible for none of L.A.’s seven turnovers in the first period. That was the biggest factor in Sacramento taking a 30-18 lead out of the period, capped by a half-court heave from James Johnson.
7:09 Apparently all the Lakers needed was to get the bench in the mix, as a 13-0 blitz to start the second had L.A. turn that deficit into a 31-30 lead. Jordan Hill was doing damage, as were Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks, the backup two guard’s corner three capping the run. Certainly a good sign to see the energy from a unit that hasn’t had much time together with Hill only returning last night from his back injury.
0:00 An excellent defensive effort saw L.A. concede only 10 points in the period, with 21 of their own cutting the lead to only one at the half. The energy from the second unit was indeed the difference, while turnovers were the main problem in the larger sense in the half: 12 for LAL, four for the Kings. The coaches realize that some of that is the Lakers simply learning how to run the offense and play with one another (Howard, Nash, Meeks, Jamison all being new), but weren’t pleased nonetheless.
7:31 The energy from the starters was not so good, however, with Sacramento taking advantage with a 9-0 run to make it 51-42 behind second year point guard Isaiah Thomas, who scored six straight to reach a game-high 13. Not that they were too concerned, but L.A. was looking at an 0-8 preseason.
0:00 Indeed, a very poor quarter resulted in 34 Kings points, and a 74-57 deficit heading into the final quarter of the preseason. Needless to say, the regular season can’t come soon enough for the purple and gold. Turnovers were up to 18, with SAC committing only five.
3:53 Antawn Jamison got his first bucket of the evening with a long two, but the lead remained at 17 (86-69) as Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock got a few minutes. Steve Nash sat out the second half, we should note, but only to get rest ahead of Tuesday night.
0:00 The final: Kings 94, Lakers 82. Preseason dead. In case you’re curious about the meaning of preseason wins and losses in the past several years: since the Lakers first year of complete preseason records in 1982-83, their best finish was a 7-1 mark in 1987-88. For each of their two most recent championship seasons, LAL went 6-2 in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 preseasons. However, in the three-peat years of the early 2000′s, L.A. went 4-4 in 2001-02, 3-5 in 2000-01 and 3-5 in 1999-2000. Next time L.A. take the floor, against a Dirk-less Dallas (knee injury), the team’s coaches and players certainly expect to see a different product. We’ll see you then.