The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors were easily the headliners of NBA free agency, and on Wednesday they met for the first time. The new-look rosters weren’t quite at full strength or speed, but there nevertheless was plenty of intrigue for the matchup.
Add to it that the game was being played in Las Vegas, and it all but assured an entertaining night. Neither team disappointed, and that particularly applied to LeBron James in a dominant first half.
While Lakers head coach Luke Walton suggested James would see an increase in minutes — he technically did — all 18 of them still came in the first half. James finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
His intensity and focus, as well as that of the Lakers and Warriors, seemed higher than what’s typically expected in a preseason game. “I just think both teams are trying to sharpen their swords and get ready for the regular season,” James said.
“Both teams are highly-energetic, run the floor extremely well, share the ball extremely well, just try to play the game the right way.”
Other than that, James felt the Lakers improving on their previous preseason games was a byproduct of their work. “We’ve been practicing very well, and it was the next game,” he explained. “We want to continue to try and implement what we’ve been doing in practice into a game situation. I think we did that tonight.”
James was particularly pleased with the Lakers’ pace and ability to limit turnovers. They finished with 38 fast-break points and 19 turnovers, compared to the Warriors’ 17 and 25, respectively.
While some may be dubious of James not having additional motivation in facing the Warriors team he’s met in each of the past four NBA Finals, Brandon Ingram vouched for his teammate. “I think his preparation is always the same,” Ingram said.
“No matter the opponent we play, it’s always the same. I think he had more words to say about each player.”
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