Las Vegas — Before the Los Angeles Lakers take off to China, the team played in their fifth preseason game on Thursday at the MGM Grand Arena against the Sacramento Kings and lost, 104-86, in a poor team shooting performance.
The Lakers’ shooting troubles were highlighted in the second half where as a team they shot 29 percent from the field and even worse from 3-point range at 21 percent, which was exemplified by Steve Blake going 0-for-10 and 0-for-8 from beyond the arc for the game.
Sacramento on the other hand, shot 59 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. The Kings took the lead midway through the third quarter after Travis Outlaw, who had 14 of his 18 points in the second half, hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 63-62 lead, which they never relinquished by building the margin to as much as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Sacramento had six players with double-digit point totals with Outlaw leading the way at 18 points, DeMarcus Cousins contributing 16, rookie Ben McLemore adding 12 points and 10 points apiece coming from Isaiah Thomas, Ray McCallum and Jason Thompson.
Los Angeles received a bulk of the team’s scoring from the starting lineup led by Jodie Meeks’ 19 points. Nick Young added 17 points, Pau Gasol chipped in with 13, Chris Kaman had 12 and Los Angeles did not get much scoring from their bench with 25 points on 19 percent shooting.
Kaman and Gasol played well in a couple of sequences in the first quarter with Gasol on the high post finding Kaman in the key for some easy buckets. The two looked as if they picked up from where they left off in Tuesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.
Nash banged up
As for the Lakers starting point guard, Steve Nash, who was 0-for-1 with two assists and one rebound in eight minutes played all in the first quarter, the veteran left to the locker room before the start of the second quarter because of a sore left ankle. He did not return in the second half and stayed in the locker room to continue to receive treatment on the ankle.
The 39-year old stated that he has been dealing with the injury for the past couple of weeks as he could not get it loose in warmups but described it as improving. Nash seemed confident that his left ankle soreness should not be a lingering injury.
“I don’t want any setbacks.” Nash said after Thursday’s loss. “So I called it to make sure I could get it right.”
Nash also stated it as “a minor thing that happens” and sounded hopeful to return to the court when the team plays the Golden State Warriors in Beijing and Shanghai next week.
“The fact I got out early, I hope it’s not a big thing,” Nash said. “I think I can play in the next few days.”
Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni stated optimism as well as he did not think Nash’s injury was significant and expects the 18-year veteran to be ready for next week.
He didn’t feel like he could warm it up,” D’Antoni said. “Every once in awhile it’s going to happen but we have a couple days off and he will practice on Tuesday, so he should be ready to go.”
As far as the team’s bad shooting performance on Thursday, D’Antoni believes they will improve once a rotation is set and key players return from injury.
“We just got to get better as a team,” D’Antoni said. “We wil look at the film and we will get better. The biggest thing on the trip is we hopefully get (Jordan) Farmar, Wesley Johnson, (Xavier Henry) and Steve Nash back and we can lengthen a little bit of Pau and Kaman’s numbers. I don’t know about the China trip, but pretty soon we got to start getting the right rotations. We got to figure it out a little better.”
Farmar (calf) and Johnson did not play for the second consecutive game. Ryan Kelly has yet to play a game this preseason as he is still out rehabbing his foot and expects to practice with the team soon. Henry played in limited action in the second half as he was dealing with what D’Antoni characterized as leg cramps.
Floyd Mayweather was in attendance at Thursday’s game and was seen speaking to Kobe Bryant after the game.
This was the first time an NBA game was played at the MGM Grand Arena.
Photo Credit: Garett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images