Monday, October 8, 2012

Musings from New-Look LA Lakers' First Preseason Game

There was a lot to be excited about Sunday in the Lakers' first preseason game versus the Golden State Warriors from Fresno, CA.

Playing the second unit the entire second half, Mike Brown and his team fell 110-83 to a hungry Warriors team to start the exhibition calendar.

But throw out the box score—it's preseason. The new-look Lakers we saw on the floor at the tip were as electric as could be.

It took all of five minutes for Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Robert Sacre (starting in place of the rehabbing Dwight Howard) to build a 10-point lead on the young Warriors and give Laker fans everywhere a glimpse of what's to come.

Enjoying this first game on Time Warner's new sports network, here are my random musings from the first preseason tilt.

Pau Gasol looked in phenomenal shape and was ready to start the season. His silver-medal performance in the 2012 London Olympics over the summer should carry over nicely into the 2012-13 season—similar to the championship start we saw to begin the 2008-09 season when he last spent the summer playing for his native Spain in the Olympics.

Speaking with the Time Warner SportsNet crew of Bill MacDonald and Stu Lantz during the second quarter, Dwight Howard coined himself a new nickname: "Iron Man." The Superman era is behind Howard, as he's embraced a new super hero—and quite fittingly. Before enduring back issues during the 2011-12 season, Howard only missed seven games in his previous seven seasons.

Steve Nash will make the offense easy for every player in a Laker uniform this season. Running the break and finding the open man off the dribble, Nash was spectacular in his limited play. His freedom under the Princeton offense to dribble-drive or swing the ball made for easy baskets during the first half. Nash even displayed some signature flair, tossing a beautiful between-the-legs bounce pass to a streaking Robert Sacre in the paint for two.

Entering training camp 20 pounds lighter, Metta World Peace displayed better command on the floor. By shedding the pounds, World Peace had an easy time getting to the basket and hitting the open three. It's quite a change from last season, when World Peace admittedly came into camp out of shape and overweight.

Believe it or not, Steve Blake looked almost 100 percent after suffering a freak foot injury over the summer. Playing significant minutes behind starter Steve Nash, Blake was active on the defensive end and facilitated the offense with the rock in his hand. Given more games under his belt, Blake should be ready to fully back up Nash to start the season on October 30th.

Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill will do a serviceable job filling in for Howard during his rehab. Sacre looked strong down low and was active around the rim. Hill settled for too many outside shots off the screen-and-roll, but true to form, he hustled and was active on the offensive and defensive glass.

New Lakers assistant coach and purveyor of the Princeton offense Eddie Jordan told Lakers reporter Mike Trudell that the team did a good job of swinging the ball and created easy shots on the weak side. Still, he admitted there was room for the team to gel and become more comfortable under this new system.

Other new additions Chris Duhon, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark were on the floor the majority of the second half when the team blew a 56-49 lead and allowed the Warriors to go on a 35-0 run through the third and fourth quarters. Chalk it up to the first preseason game, but the new additions will need more game time to get comfortable with their new team.

Above all, Kobe was Kobe. Yes, the Mamba—orthokine knee surgery or not—is still the biggest killer in the NBA.

Overall, as fans might attest, the gold never looked brighter than on the new-look Lakers during this Sunday start to the 2012-13 campaign.

Cheers all around, Nation—the Lakers' season has finally begun.


Gleison Tibau Pedro Rizzo Randy Couture Tony DeSouza  Oleg Taktarov

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