The Los Angeles Lakers ended the preseason with a perfect 4-0 record after a 114-113 comeback victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
The defending NBA champions showed signs of rustiness in each of the four exhibition games, but the overall performance generally left head coach Frank Vogel with optimism considering the circumstances.
Talen Horton-Tucker emerged as the preseason star, making a case he deserves to play a bigger role in the 2020-21 season. And despite the extremely short layoff, LeBron James and Anthony Davis featured in the two games against Phoenix and predictably were still working to find a rhythm.
“Obviously we’re not where we want to be long-term, but that’s absolutely OK,” James said.
The Lakers showed their potential in the last game against the Suns. Davis ended the night 6-for-7 from behind the arc while James made three out of the four 3-pointers he attempted. Their shooting contributed to L.A. bouncing back from a subpar performance in the first half.
There’s a consensus on the Lakers roster that room for improvement exists, but it’s a reality they embrace. “It’s not a sprint. We’re a veteran ballclub, we understand that,” James said. “I’ve been a part of some veteran ballclubs, you live in the moment and make the most of today. Which we did in our last preseason game, but we also know this is going to be a long journey.”
James willing to relinquish point guard role
James’ versatility played a major role in last season’s success, allowing L.A. to make the most of his partnership with Anthony Davis. The soon-to-be-36-year-old took on the playmaking duties, leading the league in assists with a career-high average of 10.2.
But after the Lakers added two talented passers to the roster in Marc Gasol and Dennis Schroder, James said he was willing to give up the playmaker role if that was in the best interest of the team.
“Last year called for me to be the primary ballhandler, to make sure I get guys the ball, make sure I keep the ball moving and things of that nature worked well for us, but every year is its own challenge,” he said.
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