Although the results in the lead-up to the 2021-22 season tip-off have been far from ideal, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t appear to be in a crisis mode. L.A. ended the preseason with an 0-6 record following the 116-112 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.
Carmelo Anthony said recently that although it will take time for the Lakers to come together, he thinks it’ll happen sooner than people think.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis struck a similar note, preaching the virtue of patience and insisting that great things are to come for the new-look Lakers. On Thursday, James himself registered his best night of the preseason, scoring 30 points, adding six rebounds and six assists — just days before entering his 19th NBA season.
After the game, the 36-year-old All-Star said he could see encouraging trends in the Lakers’ play despite the sixth straight loss. “Just our chemistry,” James said.
“I think we built our chemistry as the games went on and on and on. We’re starting to learn each other, try to learn each other every quarter, every time we were out on the floor. So that was the biggest thing that we can build from the games that we played.”
The Lakers dominated the Kings in the paint, outscoring them 62-40 in the protected area. They also dominated the glass, outrebounding Sacramento 56-49.
L.A.’s impressive paint presence can be partly attributed to the team’s bigs, Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan, who chalked up 23 rebounds combined. However, it also stemmed from the aggressiveness of James and Russell Westbrook in attacking the rim.
The four-time NBA champion can see the dynamic duo put a lot of pressure on their rivals in the paint this season, which he thinks can unleash Davis’ offensive potential and help the team’s shooters on the perimeter.
“We’ve grown so accustomed over the years of having teams key in on us when we bring the ball up in transition and defenses are loaded early, not wanting us to get into the paint and break the defense down,” James said.
“But with both of us on now different sides, if one of us are bringing the ball down and we get the defense to shift on this side, quick swing to the other side, now we’re able to go with not a set of three or four eyes looking at us.
“So it’s just constant pressure that we’re going to put on the defense and it ultimately is gonna help AD, it’s going to help our shooters, it’s going to help everybody on the floor because we can break down the defense at a high level.”
Westbrook says Lakers’ pace will be “big” for L.A.
The Lakers appear to have big expectations for the pace and athleticism of their new-look roster. Westbrook recently said he was excited to see how much damage L.A. can inflict going downhill.
“Our pace is going to be big for us with our size and athleticism,” he said. “We got to be able to use it for 48 minutes.”
Westbrook added: “Sometimes it was coming off makes, but every time it’s got to be something that we emphasize because when we’re coming downhill, myself, Bron, or even AD, it’s tough to be able to stop.
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