What we learned from the Lakers’ 85-65 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in their summer league opener Friday night.
1) D’Angelo Russell eased his way into the game, looking for his teammates early on before he became more aggressive.
It was a delicate balance for Russell in the Lakers’ victory in Las Vegas, but the first-year point guard was able to pull off the feat.
His stat line read: 29 minutes. 20 points. 11 rebounds. 6 assists. 5 turnovers (some while trying to get a teammate a shot). 7-for-12 shooting. 1-for-1 on three-pointers.
Russell didn’t shoot much in the first quarter, preferring to run the offense, to put his young teammates in the right spot and to instill confidence in the group.
As the game moved forward, Russell began to attack more.
He demonstrated just how much he has worked on his low-post game, working down low and scoring with a variety of moves.
“Obviously I tried to post up as much as I can,” Russell said. “I had some success there.”
2) The hitch still remains in Larry Nance Jr.’s shot, but at least now he is a willing shooter.
Nance didn’t hesitate to put up shots when he was open against the Pelicans. As a rookie last season, the 6-9 power forward was a reluctant shooter even if he was wide open.
On Friday night, Nance took eight shots, which for him represents progress. He made four of them.
He had talked about how much time he spent working on his three-pointer. Nance made his first three-ball, but missed his second.
But it was a step in the right direction for him, his confidence growing every time he touched the basketball.
His defense was stellar, with both of his blocks sending the basketball far away from the basket.
Nance also had nine rebounds, eight on defense.
3) Ivica Zubac was a crowd favorite because of his play.
Few knew what to expect from the Lakers’ second-round draft pick.
But what the fans saw left them chanting Zubac’s name.
The 7-1 center had 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks in 28:19.
He also was five-for-five from the free-throw line.
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner