In their first look at preseason action, the Los Angeles Lakers withstood stretches of sloppy play to come away with a 87-81 win over the L.A. Clippers.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all sat out, giving head coach Frank Vogel an extended look at some of the new acquisitions. As expected, though, the play of both teams was ragged.
Montrezl Harrell did have a solid start, draining a midrange jumper and drawing an offensive foul early.
Dennis Schroder got going from the field after jetting to the rim for a layup and draining a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a small lead past the halfway mark of the first. The end of their bench closed out the period and were able to build a modest 25-22 advantage.
Talen Horton-Tucker, who has drawn considerable praise from Vogel, started the second quarter with a nifty and-one and followed it up with a perfect pass to Devontae Cacok underneath the basket.
After a slow start, the Clippers found their stride on offense by playing through Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to take a 34-30 lead.
The Lakers suffered another ragged stretch as scoring was scarce, while the Clippers were able to stay out in front after a couple of transition buckets. Quinn Cook and Harrell provided a spark toward the end of the quarter and the purple and gold were only down 46-43 at halftime.
The Lakers began the second half with their starters while the Clippers opted to rest Leonard and George in favor of their second unit. Schroder and Harrell did their best to carry the offense, but were clearly still trying to find their footing with their new teammates.
Horton-Tucker continued to impress after finishing through contact on a drive, while the defense showed flashes after stringing together a few stops. Turnovers allowed the Clippers to maintain the advantage, so the Lakers found themselves down 61-59 heading into the fourth.
The third unit for the Clippers found little issues getting into the paint, scoring on a couple of runners to extend their lead. However, Harrell’s activity on both ends helped give the Lakers some life and allowed them to chip away at the deficit.
The Lakers were able to get into the bonus midway through the fourth and Kyle Kuzma was able to briefly give them the lead after knocking down a pair. Horton-Tucker later converted a three-point play and Kuzma connected from deep to create more separation.
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