The Los Angeles Lakers were much more competitive in their second preseason game but unfortunately fell just short against the Phoenix Suns.
Much like their first preseason showing, the Lakers starters looked good on both ends of the floor in the first half before being shut down later in the game. Head coach Darvin Ham utilized lineups that emphasized small ball, opting to play only traditional big on the court most of the night.
Anthony Davis was a late scratch due to lower back tightness, opening up an opportunity for Wenyen Gabriel to get the start. The energetic big man provided his usual burst effort on both ends of the floor and managed to score six points in his 31 minutes. He had the highlight play of the game when he contested a shot at the rim, sprinted in transition and finished a lob from LeBron James.
The biggest bright spot for the Lakers was Kendrick Nunn, who built off his solid performance from the previous game. Nunn led the bench in scoring with 21 points in just 19 minutes, hitting eight of his 13 attempts from the field, including an efficient 4-of-7 from behind the arc. The most important takeaway, though, is that he looks completely past the bone bruise that forced him to miss the entirety of the 2021-22 season.
James also bounced back after his rough shooting start to the preseason, leading Los Angeles in scoring with 23 points. Like Nunn, James was able to score all over the floor and help the Lakers build up a double-digit lead in the first half before being rested in the second half.
Russell Westbrook continued his strong start to the preseason, recording 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Despite only shooting 4-of-12 from the field, the majority of his looks came either at the rim or behind the 3-point line, shots that Ham and his staff will surely be happy with.
Austin Reaves made another strong case to start alongside the Lakers’ Big 3, displaying his two-way playmaking ability. Reaves led L.A. in assists with nine while also coming up with three steals and two blocks.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on the second end of a back-to-back in Las Vegas. Ham has already ruled out James, Davis and Westbrook while Patrick Beverley is 50-50 to play. After that, Los Angeles faces off against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
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