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Lakers finish preseason 4-4, an improvement over last year's 0-8

The Lakers have completed their exhibition season with a reasonable 4-4 record.

Just a year ago, with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, the Lakers went 0-8 through the preseason.

Bryant is still trying to recover from tearing an Achilles' tendon in April, Dwight Howard is in Houston with the Rockets and Nash isn't quite himself with ankle and neck issues.

The team traveled to China for a pair of games against the Golden State Warriors.  Various players sat with injury, including Wesley Johnson (foot), Jordan Farmar (calf), and Chris Kaman (gastroenteritis). Still, the Lakers were relatively competitive.

Preseason might give a glimpse of what's to come but it's rarely an accurate gauge of the season ahead.

In the Western Conference, the New Orleans Hornets finished with the best record in the preseason at 7-1, followed by the Rockets (6-1).

The Lakers, who reached .500 with Friday's 111-106 win over the Utah Jazz, finished tied with the ninth-best record with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.

Only five teams in the East had winning records, including the Chicago Bulls who went a perfect 8-0.

One of the biggest questions for the Lakers going into the season is defense.  Over eight preseason games, the Lakers gave up an average of 99.9 points, second-worst in the West.

But how meaningful is that number when the San Antonio Spurs gave up 104.6 points a game?

Offensively the Lakers scored 96.4 points a game — nowhere near the 106.7 the Rockets poured in through seven games.

As a team, the Lakers shot just 40.9% from the field and 33.2% from behind the three-point line.

Rebounding stood out as a weakness with opponents averaging 49.4 rebounds a game to the Lakers' 41.0.

One clear improvement over last year? The Lakers shot 79.0% from the free-throw line, a jump from 69.2% a season ago.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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