LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers took the floor for time played their first preseason back at Staples Center that had plenty to take away from the 113-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Here are a few tidbits from Tuesday’s tilt:
Kuzma shines again
Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma kept up his strong string of performances going in the preseason by scoring a team-high 23 points on nine of 17 shooting from the field.
Kuzma did most of his offensive work in the fourth quarter notching a period best 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting with several key buckets down the stretch that helped trim a double-digit lead down to just four points with just 42 seconds left.
“I just really try to play hard,” Kuzma said. “I don’t really think of the outcomes. I just to play hard and my work ethic helps me.”
The 22-year-old has shown much comfort and confidence with his play on the floor making quick decisions with the ball that have led to better looks on his attempts either at the rim or from the outside. With four more games left in the preseason, it will provide him more opportunities to build on his promising play.
In his second preseason action, rookie point guard Lonzo Ball showed more comfort on the floor finishing with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting with four assists, and three rebounds in 22 minutes played.
“It feels natural out there,” Ball said. “I thought I started out well. I thought we started as a team pretty well. We brought energy but unfortunately, we didn’t hold it for 48 but that’s progress to getting better.”
Much of his production came in the first half, that included an alley-oop dunk in transition on a pass from veteran guard Jordan Clarkson.
“That’s the first one I caught one on this team,” Ball said of the alley-oop pass from Clarkson. “I feel as time goes on I’ll catch a lot more.”
His night was limited after he suffered a minor left ankle sprain near the end of the second quarter after landing a little awkwardly following a block attempt. Shortly thereafter, he checked out of the game at the next dead ball. However, he would continue to play in the third quarter after getting his ankle taped up in the locker room at halftime
Following the game, Ball brushed aside the injury voicing little concern about it moving forward by stating that he would play in Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets at the Ontario Citizens Business Bank Arena.
“If I can play, I will play,” Ball said bluntly.
All of this will depend on the how swelling of the injury will respond on Tuesday morning, where the team can take a plan of action moving forward in the preseason.
Defense work in progress
The Lakers for the second consecutive game struggled defensively giving up 113 points to the Nuggets on Monday night on 45.3 percent shooting from the field and 51.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Denver had its way for much of the night getting high percentage looks notching 30 or more points in both the second and third quarter while that saw them shoot 47.6 percent and 50 percent respectively from the field in each period. There were numerous defensive lapses on the perimeter that led to either better looks from the outside or dribble penetration that led to higher percentage looks in the paint.
Although this was just the second game of the preseason, the Lakers have had issues defensively over the last couple of years as they ranked near the bottom of the league in several different categories. If they hope to take a leap forward this upcoming, there will need to be some vast improvement on that end of the floor.
Bob Garcia IV
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