The Los Angeles Lakers will finish the 2022 preseason with a losing record — with LeBron James and Co. currently standing at 1-4 and having only one game left to improve it.
The Lakers won Sunday’s clash against the Golden State Warriors, only to fall to the understaffed Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday in the first real test for head coach Darvin Ham’s starting lineup. James and Anthony Davis looked ready for the 2022-23 season’s tip-off, both ending the clash with a double-double while combining for 44 points.
But besides the superstar duo — and Lonnie Walker IV, who left the game early after spraining his ankle — L.A. lacked quality on both ends of the floor, allowing the Timberwolves to build a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. After the game, James said the Lakers will keep working on their habits, trying to learn new head coach Darvin Ham’s system.
“I think we have some really good moments at times,” James added. “Today, I thought that late group executed exactly what we wanted to execute and did a great job getting back into the game. And I thought at the start of the second half, we did a good job about planning and talking about what we want to play.
“So we have another game on Friday, and we look forward to continuing to improve.”
Despite the poor preseason record, James said he feels encouraged by the Lakers’ progress since training camp started. “Yeah, I think I like the way we’ve been playing,” he said.
“Not only in practices but during film session. How we’ve been, you know, calculating things and seeing the things that we need to do. How we want to play it and take it to the game floor.”
The Lakers shot just 25.6% from 3-point range and committed 20 turnovers against the Timberwolves in another difficult showing for the offense. But James said he liked the quality of the shots L.A. had on Wednesday, not many of them just happened to find the net.
“The quality of shots that we got was amazing,” the Lakers All-Star said. “We missed a lot of wide-open shots, and that’s okay. You know, it’s about how we were going to have it’s how we’re sharing the ball offensively, if we get the ball moving side to side, everybody felt in a good rhythm.
“So I don’t feel like we forced threes. They were all in off, drive and kick off, penetration in the pocket. Finding guys weak side, and it just didn’t go, which is fine.”
James emphasizes Lakers’ focus on defense
James said the Lakers will have games when they will struggle to hit triples during the 2022-23 season. However, he thinks the Purple and Gold will stand a chance to win on an off shooting night if they put in enough effort on defense.
“We know we want to accomplish on a game-to-game basis,” the 37-year-old forward said. “And at the end of the day, I mean, you’re gonna have games where you make them, you’re gonna have games where you don’t make, and you got great looks.
“But the most important is our effort, and how we defend, you know, and if we defend, we’re gonna give ourselves a good chance to win every single night, no matter if the ball is going in or not.”
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