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Three takeaways from Lakers’ preseason opener

Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

Following weeks of anticipation, the Los Angeles Lakers had their first action in the preseason on Saturday night where there was certainly much to take away in the 108-99 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Here are a few things that can be assessed from the opening preseason game:

Ingram’s Aggression

Heading into this season, there is much pressure on the shoulders of the second-year forward Brandon Ingram to make a significant leap forward. 

Much of this has been centered around his play offensively, and he showed a bit of that against the Timberwolves notching double-figures, which almost entirely came in the first quarter. He had nine of the Lakers’ first 15 points of the game by knocking down four of his first seven shot attempts in eight minutes played in the opening quarter. 

Although he missed his last eight shots he took in the game with only one point on a made free throw the rest of the way, head coach Luke Walton was highly encouraged by the aggressiveness nature to which Ingram played. 

The 20-year-old took shots without hesitation against Minnesota, which could be more of the same moving forward as he looks to become the leading offensive scorer this upcoming season. 

Kuzma shines

Building off his strong showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, the Lakers’ rookie forward Kyle Kuzma added more to the growing hype around him with a productive night. 

Kuzma scored 19 points on 9 of 12 shooting in the contest. He showed much comfort on the floor as the game rolled on with his biggest moment coming in the third quarter with a sequence of three straight made field goals. It began with a floater over Karl-Anthony Towns followed by a running hook over Town and ended with a spin move over layup over Taj Gibson.

The 22-year-old made his impact felt throughout the game with his play on both ends of the floor that helped lead to his efficient production offensively. Despite his strong performance, the first real NBA action gave Kuzma a good gauge of what he still needs to improve on in order to be successful in the league. 

Taj Gibson got me at the rim a couple of times,” Kuzma said. “Just the pace of how people play at. It’s not 100 mph a day. You would think it is, but it’s really pace stop and go. I definitely learned a lot out there just from one game.”

Ball’s Debut

In his first official action, the 19-year-old put together a productive outing despite his shooting struggles scoring five points on 2-of-9 shooting with eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals in 30 minutes played. 

Lonzo Ball was actively involved in the offensive keeping the ball moving finding teammates in transition while playing through the flow of the game. Following the game, Walton voiced much praise toward the Lakers’ rookie guard’s presence on the floor and passing ability, but felt that he could have been more aggressive with looking for his own shot at times.

It’s something that Ball also agreed with this notion as he believes the more experience he gains the more comfortable he will become looking toward generating his own individual offense. 

“He’s probably right,” Ball said. “I know that plays I did today I had a lot of shots that I passed up. Like I said with time I will get better.

 Ball and the Lakers will get their next opportunity on Monday night at Staples Center against the Denver Nuggets. 

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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