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    Lakers ready to close preseason with ‘a little bit of a test run’ against Suns
    • October 18, 2023

    TEMECULA — After a preseason that included stops throughout the West Coast, the Lakers are ready to wrap up their six-game exhibition slate on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns at Acrisure Arena in Thousand Palms.

    They’re entering the matchup with the intention of using it as “a little bit of a test run” – playing the core players who are healthy – ahead of their regular-season opener against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Ball Arena.

    “That’s the plan going into it,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said after Wednesday’s practice. “We plan to follow through with that. But not get too crazy. We’re going to come in and play a real, normal, competitive basketball game and see how we fit together in long stretches.”

    This means LeBron James and Austin Reaves are expected to be available and play alongside the other known starters – D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis – after playing in two preseason games apiece so far.

    The Lakers have been cautious with the workloads of James and Reaves: James because he’s entering his 21st NBA season and Reaves because he played deep into the summer with Team USA during the FIBA World Cup.

    The expectation is that the Lakers will try to replicate a regular-season game, rotation-wise – at least for three quarters.

    Taurean Prince, an eight-year NBA veteran who joined the Lakers in free agency, appears to be the leader for the fifth starting spot but Ham hasn’t disclosed who will play that role. Prince has started in the other two games when the four known starters were available.

    When asked what the Lakers need to iron out before the regular-season opener, Prince responded “everything.”

    “Nothing is set in stone,” he added. “A lot of room to get better, not only before Denver but throughout the season. We’ll have to make adjustments and get better as we go. That’s all about being a pro and adapting.

    The Lakers hosted Wednesday’s annual open practice session at the Pechanga Recreation Center.

    After Thursday, the Lakers will have hosted home games in Las Vegas, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Thousand Palms this preseason while playing another in San Francisco.

    “We’re a high-profile organization and the people want to see us,” Ham said. “So we kind of handle it all in stride and get our work in when we need to get our work in. We have fans everywhere – NBA markets, [and] non-NBA markets. We want to show our fans appreciation and come out and be able to touch people where normally they don’t get to see us live, in person like this.”


    Ham said guard Gabe Vincent went through “the whole entire workout” on Wednesday after missing the previous two games because of lower back soreness.

    Wednesday’s focus was “continuing to polish up some of our offensive stuff, some of our defensive stuff,” according to Ham, who added that there wasn’t any player-on-player contact during the practice session.

    Vincent played in the first three preseason games, averaging 10.3 points and 2.7 assists in 21.8 minutes.

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    “We just had some tightness,” Vincent said. “Some general soreness. Just trying to take care of it. Preseason, just try to make sure we make the smartest decision moving forward.”

    Ham said Vincent is “trending in the right direction.”

    Vincent responded “I feel good about it – we’ll see what’s in store” when asked if he’s confident he’ll be available Thursday against the Suns or Tuesday against the Nuggets.

    Forward Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel soreness) is still on track to be reevaluated on Friday after sitting out for most of the preseason.


    When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

    Where: Acrisure Arena in Thousand Palms

    TV/radio: Spectrum SportsNet, 710 AM

    Pechanga Recreation Center

    LeBron James and Anthony Davis signing autograph for kids after the Lakers’ annual open practice in Temecula.

    — Khobi Price (@khobi_price) October 18, 2023

    ​ Orange County Register