The Los Angeles Lakers managed to come back from 21 points down to defeat the Phoenix Suns in their final preseason game.
The Lakers finished their preseason slate a perfect 4-0 behind strong performances from Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma, while LeBron James and Anthony Davis showed how dominant they can be on any given night.
Meanwhile, the new additions seemed to find their footing and improved as the preseason games went on. Although Los Angeles is only 10 weeks removed from their thrilling NBA Finals victory, the rust from the time off reared its head as they endured slow starts to each game and clearly looked as though they were trying to learn each other’s tendencies on the floor.
While they were able to turn it around mid-game, it is likely these issues persist heading into the 2020-21 season, especially when considering the lack of a training camp and practice time.
Head coach Frank Vogel admitted as much, saying that the Lakers will have their obstacles early on in the year. “It’s going to be a challenge for us early on in the season, with the short offseason and nature of the condensed preseason,” he said.
“We’re 4-0, but we certainly have a long way to go in terms of playing at the level we want to play at, especially on the defensive end. We were making shots to stay in the game, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
While the core of the team from last season remains intact, Vogel also noted that they will use the next few days to get the players back into game shape as well as go over the team’s philosophies on both ends of the floor.
“I’m going to huddle up with my coaches, we’ll be off [Saturday], probably have a conditioning-based practice on Sunday where we get up and down. I still don’t think our guys’ legs are where anyone wants them to be,” Vogel noted.
“We’ll decelerate on Monday and get ready to go Tuesday night. We’ll just continue to work on all the habits of our system and continue to implement things and tighten the screws on things.”
Any time a roster is overhauled, there will always be an adjustment period and the circumstances for this season only exacerbate that challenge. As talented as Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol are, it will take time for them to fully get acclimated despite playing next to James and Davis.
Regardless, the Lakers should be able to stay afloat as the other 29 teams in the league are facing the same issues. Talent oftentimes wins out in the NBA, and luckily for Vogel the Lakers have enough of it weather any early season troubles.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope believes Lakers will get on same page
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returned on a three-year deal, a massive signing for the Lakers as they kept arguably the third-best player from their title run.
The shooting guard was solid in his brief preseason appearances, but Caldwell-Pope also noted that he and his teammates looked discombobulated at times. However, he is optimistic that they will correct that sooner rather than later.
“We still look kind of lost out there a little bit, but I know the team we have, the group of guys that’s here, I know it’s going to be soon that we put it together,” he said.
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