The preseason is almost over and the Lakers know they still have a lot of work left to do. They took another crack at the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night and fared slightly better than in their first meeting. Still, the Warriors are Warriors. They won 123-112.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Warriors are going to be unreal this season. We didn't need this game to prove the stunning talent they've amassed, but it was striking nonetheless.
2. The Lakers made some progress between games. To expect anything less than dominant wins over the youthful Lakers was unreasonable, especially at this stage of the Lakers' arc, but the Lakers fought back against a more complete Warriors team. Draymond Green played nearly 32 minutes after skipping the prior matchup. While the Warriors sat most of their starters for the second half against the Lakers in Las Vegas, on Wednesday in San Diego, Stephen Curry checked back in late in the fourth quarter as the Lakers kept the game close.
3. Luke Walton is still looking for the magic potion to fix his first unit. He'd been trying a lineup that included Julius Randle, Timofey Mozgov, D'Angelo Russell, Luol Deng and Lou Williams for much of the preseason. On Wednesday Deng rested and Williams came off the bench. Walton replaced them with Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson. All five starters on Wednesday had plus/minuses that were at least negative-13 or lower. The first unit is naturally going up against the opponent's best group each night, so to some degree it makes sense their successors would fare better. Still, Walton can't like the habit they're falling into of going down big early.
4. Once you come through a shaky start, it's easier to analyze it. So while Brandon Ingram insisted for most of the preseason that his confidence remained high, he really showed that he was more comfortable on Wednesday. I asked what he's improved the most at since Day 1 of training camp. "I think just gaining confidence," Ingram said. "Gaining confidence each and every game." Ingram had a team-high 21 points, a lot of it coming in a standout fourth quarter.
5. Eventually the novelty of the cross-relationships between the two teams will wear off, but right now it's a lot of fun. The banter between Walton and Green was especially fun to watch. Can we get them mic'd up next time?