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    Lakers start strong but falter late in preseason opener against Warriors
    • October 8, 2023

    It was known well before tipoff that team-wide assessments would be difficult to decipher from the Lakers’ first game in five months.

    With LeBron James and Austin Reaves dressed in street clothes as healthy scratches for Saturday’s preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers were down two of their top players and ball handlers in the 127-110 loss at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

    So when the Lakers, who led by as many as four points midway through the first quarter, started to rely on their depth, their grasp on the game slipped.

    The Warriors’ bench outscored the Laker reserves 91-53. It didn’t help that the Lakers struggled to contain Golden State in transition – a deficiency that existed last season as well.

    But again, it’s just the first preseason game. Transition defense and the rotation are details the Lakers have the opportunity to iron out over the next couple of weeks before games begin to count in the regular-season standings.

    With James and Reaves out, only two known-to-the-public starters were available against the Warriors: Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell.

    Both had their bright moments in limited playing time, with neither playing in the second half.

    Davis controlled the paint on both ends of the court – deterring the Warriors from even taking shots near the rim when he was on the floor and attacking the paint aggressively offensively.

    He finished with 15 points (6-of-11 shooting) and five rebounds in 13 minutes. The most encouraging part of Davis’ play from Saturday: he fluidly knocked down two of his three 3-point attempts.

    With James and Reaves sitting out, Russell’s skillset as an on-ball decision-maker shined, especially in the second quarter. He finished with 15 points (6-of-10 shooting, 2 for 3 from 3-point range) and five assists in 15 first-half minutes.

    Rui Hachimura also scored in double figures: 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

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    Second-year guard Max Christie (15 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 25 minutes) found his rhythm in the third quarter.

    Cam Reddish (one point on 0-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes), Christian Wood (five points on 2-of-8 shooting with four rebounds in 20 minutes) and Taurean Prince (two points on 1-of-5 shooting) struggled in their first games as Lakers.

    Reddish left the game early in the fourth because of a sprained right ankle. Prince fouled out, recording his sixth foul in 13 minutes played midway through the fourth.

    The Warriors, who also limited their starters to first-half minutes, were led by Jonathan Kuminga’s 24 points (8-of-14 shooting), eight rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.

    The Lakers next play Monday night in Las Vegas against the Brooklyn Nets.

    ​ Orange County Register