ANAHEIM, CALIF. – The Los Angeles Lakers in the preseason finale on Friday fell to the Phoenix Suns 98-94.
Although the Lakers dropped six of their eight exhibition games, there is still plenty to be encouraged about heading into the season opener next Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. With that said, here a few things to take away from Friday’s contest:
Young Has An Off Night
Through the first seven preseason games, Nick Young had been arguably the Lakers’ best player on the court.
Although he struggled with his shot missing his first five attempts on Friday night, Young got it going in the third quarter knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers. However, these would be his only made shots of the night as he finished 2-of-11 from the field for eight points with five rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 31 minutes played.
It may have been an off night from a statistical standpoint, but Young continued to show better shot selection taking attempts when they were presented to him off screens or coming off movement away from the ball.
This has helped him tremendously in generating a productive preseason hitting 48.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc while averaging 10.9 points, including four double-digit scoring performances.
More importantly, Young’s play in the preseason has worked himself into good graces with the coaching staff ahead of a critical season that will dictate his long-term future in Los Angeles.
Coming off his best game of the preseason, rookie Brandon Ingram took a step back tallying just two points on 0-for-2 shooting with three rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 19 minutes played.
Ingram showed more of his inexperience with his indecisiveness while with the ball. He had several instances where his passes appeared to be a second too late that put his teammates out of position to make a play once they received the pass.
It was not a night to be discouraged about, but rather an indication that this is something that he’s going to go through from time to time as the season wears on. Much of this will rely on him building his confidence through in-game experience that he gains in order make the 20-point performance that he had against the Golden State Warriors a more common occurrence.
Fighting For Last Roster Spots
With the Lakers still possessing 17 players under contract ahead of the season opener, it pushes to the forefront the looming decision to cut two players that appear to be between Metta World Peace, Thomas Robinson, and Yi Jianlian.
With World Peace receiving a healthy scratch, Robinson and Jianlian had the chance to make their final case to the coaching staff.
Robinson made the most of his opportunity on Friday night receiving his playing time all of his eight minutes on the floor in the third quarter scoring four points on 2-of-4 shooting while grabbing five rebounds and registering a block . The 25-year-old demonstrated strong effort on the floor that he hopes helped him earn the 15th and final roster spot.
“If I would have came out and scored 20 points a game, I would have told you that’s not who I am,” Robinson said. “I’m not a scorer or a go-to guy. I do the dirty work and I’m an energy guy. I rebound and I play defense. I think I did the best I could. I’m happy what I did so far and it’s not up to me anymore.”
Meanwhile, Jianlian continued to struggle to find his place within the flow of the offense scoring just three points on 1-of-3 shooting with three rebounds and a block in 13 minutes played. His one made field goal came on a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left to pull the Lakers within 94-93.
Walton has continued to praise Jianlian, but it has become more apparent with each passing exhibition game that Jianlian had trouble finding his niche on the team. Much of his work on offense involved him remaining around the perimeter setting high picks and taking shots from mid-range.
That said, head coach Luke Walton is still unsure about what he plans for the final cut.
“I’ll talk to my staff and get some of their opinions then talk to Mitch, Glen and Jimmy (Buss),” Walton said. “Then give all of our decisions then go from there.”
Bob Garcia IV
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