The Los Angeles Lakers beating the Portland Trail Blazers in a preseason game doesn’t say anything about the usefulness of Kobe Bryant in the setup, but it did provide another example of just how good it is for them to have Jeremy Lin on the floor, especially when teaming him up with Julius Randle at the same time.
Lin played for the second straight night coming off his ankle injury, still playing off the bench. Kobe Bryant won’t be appearing in what remains of the preseason anymore as a precautionary measure, which makes sense considering his age and his injuries over the last couple of years. The Blazers were also missing quite a lot of key players in LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Steve Blake. In short? Damian Lillard and a bunch of bench players.
The only one of these bench players to really make an impressing was C.J. McCollum, trying to re-do his rookie season after missing too much of his actual one to be a factor for the Blazers when the season was on the line and entered the postseason. Chris Kaman, another interesting addition to their ranks who’ll play off the bench scored 12 points, while Damian Lillard finished the game with 8 points in 17 minutes.
The Lakers won 94-86, led by Julius Randle with 17 points in 24 minutes to go with 8 rebounds, and four other Lakers players finished in double figures. Jeremy Lin was very good with 13 points and 5 assists although he did turn the ball over six times. Preseason is the time to let those out of the way. Lin wasn’t bad in curbing his tendency to turn the ball over last season, and it’s vital he keeps that trend going in his first (and maybe only) season with the Lakers.
Randle made a couple of coast to coast dribbles that finished with baskets, later saying he doesn’t want to be the next Shaquille O’Neal, preferring to be known as the next Bryant. Obviously, with a Zach Randolph like figure and size, Randle isn’t going to be the next Kobe Bryant, but it’s always nice to know your low post player has a few moves he can pull off in the open court.
Lin is a very good feeder of balls to the paint in more than the traditional way. He played 24 minutes while Ronnie Price had 23. In the regular season, regardless of Nash healthy or not, the numbers aren’t going to be this close, unless Scott is planning to surprise us again. Every time Lin played in this preseason, the Lakers were better for it. For his individual skill and for his ability to make others better around him. There’s no other player on the Lakers with that kind of ability, including Steve Nash. Bryant might be, but he’s to focused on scoring to ever become that kind of “make everyone better” player unless he’s trying to prove a point for a few days, like he did in the 2012-2013 season.