After finishing last season with a franchise worst 21-61 record, the Los Angeles Lakers are back to begin the 2015-16 NBA preseason in hopes of turning franchise around.
The Lakers made a lot of moves in the off-season, beginning with drafting D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. They also drafted Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown with the 27th and 34th picks overall. In free agency, the team signed multiple players such as 10-year veteran Brandon Bass, reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and veteran Metta World Peace, who last played for the Lakers in 2013. They also made a trade with the Indiana Pacers to bring two-time All-Star Roy Hibbert to Los Angeles to protect the paint, something the team struggled with mightily last season.
Lastly, the Lakers are finally healthy once again. That means Nick Young, Julius Randle, and of course, Kobe Bryant, now in his 20th season in the NBA, are all back and are looking to help this young Laker team contend in the Western Conference.
The game began with Utah’s Gordon Hayward making one of two free throws followed by a Julius Randle dunk off D’Angelo Russell’s first assist. The Jazz made two consecutive baskets to give the Utah a 7-2 lead. Down five, Jordan Clarkson scored a layup then got a breakaway dunk off his first steal of the preseason. The Jazz then went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 14-6 halfway through the first quarter. Bryant got on the board making a free throw after the three-second violation on Utah, followed by a slashing layup by Russell. With the lead down to five again, Bryant hit a corner three to give the Lakers a 6-0 run and trim the lead to two. Hayward made a driving layup with four minutes left to give the Jazz a 16-12 lead. Lou Williams entered the game off the bench and hit a 27-foot three on his first shot taken with 1:30 remaining. The quarter ended with Trevor Booker making a driving layup off the Rodney Hood assist to give Utah a 18-16 at the end of one.
The second quarter began with back-to-back scores by Robert Sacre and Jabari Brown to give the Lakers their first lead of the game. Following three made free throws by Utah, Nick Young got on the board with a 15-foot jumper to regain the lead, 22-21. Brandon Bass added to that lead off a sweet pass by Wililams on an easy dunk, three minutes into the quarter. Utah’s Milsap and Hayward both made one free throw each to trim the lead to two with 6:39 remaining. Lou Williams showed why they call him “Sweet Lou” by making a crafty 15-footer plus drawing the foul. This was followed by Tarik Black making a nice turnaround hook shot off the Young assist to give the Lakers a 29-23 lead. With under five minutes left in the quarter, Bass scored on the and-one layup, but failed to convert the free throw. Utah would come back on a 6-0 run led by Hayward to cut the lead back to two with a score of 31-29. After Gobert made one of two free throws, Williams’ would come to the other end and convert on both of his free throws. Gobert would once again split his free throws again, that was followed by a Lou Wililams 16-foot jumper. The half ended on some excitement with Nick Young hitting a three with one second left in the quarter. After two quarters, the Lakers led 38-33.
The second half began with Young knocking down a jumper off the D’Angelo Russell assist. Following the jumper, Jordan Clarkson would go coast to coast to score an easy layup to give the Lakers a 42-33 lead. Nick Young would hit his second three of the night that was followed by a Clarkson layup plus the foul off Russell’s third assist to extend the lead to 13. The Jazz would go on an 9-0 run off buckets by Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, Gobert and Hayward to cut the lead to single digits. With under seven minutes to play in the third, the Jazz saw themselves only down by four. Julius Randle got back into the action knocking a pair of free throws to make it 50-44 lead for the Lakers. Following the free throws, Utah would once again go on another 6-0 run to tie the game at 50 even; In total, Utah went on a 15-2 run to re-tie the game. With the Lakers struggling to score, D’Angelo Russell would take matters into his own hands scoring on a 29-foot three pointer to regain the lead. Hibbert would score on the next possession after getting the offensive rebound on his own miss, putting the Lakers up 55-50. After Randle scored on an offensive putback, Raul Neto would strip the ball from Hibbert that led to an easy basket for Trevor Booker. Booker scored again on two free throws to cut the Lakers’ lead to one. The quarter ended with Randle making one of two free throws, 59-57 Lakers.
Joe Ingles starts the fourth quarter off by putting the Jazz ahead of the Lakers with a three following two ugly and empty possessions by Los Angeles. Rodney Hood capitalized on a Lakers turnover by throwing down the jam and extending Utah’s lead to five. Hood headed to the line to connect on both free throws on the next possession. Lou Williams drew the foul, but missed the first and made the second. Lead was cut to six, 66-60. Jazz center Tibor Pleiss hit two free throws to give the Jazz an eight-point lead. Rookie Anthony Brown didn’t take long to make his presence known hitting a three in his first shot attempt. Elijah Millsap connected on a couple of free throws giving the Jazz a seven-point cushion. Ryan Kelly gets on the board with a nice drive to the basket. Unfortunately, Jazz countered immediately with Millsap scoring with ease in transition. Tarik Black entered the game for Robert Sacre. Williams blocked Trey Burke giving the Lakers possession with the Jazz up seven. Kelly got the basket on another drive, but only drew the foul with finishing. Kelly hit one out of two free throws. Jeff Withey got to the charity stripe to hit one out of two. Williams scored his 13th point on a smooth floater in the lane. Trey Lyles hit a five-footer. Williams headed to the line on the other end after drawing the foul. Connected one out of two. Lyles went for the monster, is blocked midway, but the ball falls in anyway. Jazz lead, 77-69. Withey got two more free throws to fall after drawing the foul. Millsap finished on an easy layup to push the lead to 12. Black drew the foul after battling in the paint. Missed the first and the second, but Kelly has the offensive rebound bounce his way and got the easy layup. Ingles hit a 23-footer. Withey was able to get to the line once again to hit both of his free-throw attempts. Sacre came back in the game after Brandon Bass committed another foul on Withey sending him to the line yet again. Withey hit the first and the second. Raul Neto reached the free-throw line and scores the last two points of the game. Lakers lose, 90-71.