Lakers Huddle

There’s not much to really expect from the Los Angeles Lakers as they lose their first game of the preseason, because Kobe Bryant isn’t part of the setup right now. Their loss to the Denver Nuggets is twice as meaningless as it usually would be because nothing you see on the court in terms of team cohesion and team blend matters, as Bryant has the knack to make everything different the moment he steps on the court.

There are bad news, as always for the Lakers in recent times. Wesley Johnson left the game early on with a strained left foot, and the Lakers are crossing their fingers, hoping that the MRI doesn’t show anything severe. If there’s one thing this team can’t afford is injuries, as the quality isn’t that great anyway, and their depth situation is even worse.

One thing the Lakers are doing in this preseason is not putting too much workload on the veterans. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol made their debuts after sitting out the exhibition season opener against the Warrios. Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar got to rest in the game against the Nuggets.

Gasol led the Lakers’ starters with 13 points in 23 minutes of playing time, but finished with only 4-of-13 from the field, while Nick Young tried to get hot early, finishing with 4-of-16 from the field. The top scorer was Xavier Henry, scoring 15 points off the bench, getting half of his points from the line, shooting nine times.

Steve Nash, maybe the most important player in the jigsaw puzzle that are the Lakers this season, hardly tried and shoot the ball. He was only on the floor for 22 minutes, but in a complete difference to his role when Kobe Bryant is on the floor, he was the main ball handler once again, dishing out six assists while finishing with 0 points.

And while the Lakers started with a very small lineup, it’s nothing we’re going to see in the regular season: Nash, Wesley Johnson, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol. The Lakers can book their place in the lottery if that kind of quality is what they show up with for some of the games this season.

On the other end, Brian Shaw made his debut as the Nuggets’ head coach, leading to a 97-88 win. Denver had a strong performance from Ty Lawson, hitting 70% of his field goal attempts to finish with 15 points. Jordan Hamilton was just as efficient, scoring 15 points off the bench, with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler still out for Denver, hoping to make the transition from the Karl era to something else as smooth as possible.