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Lakers start is familiar: 5 takeaways from loss to Clippers

Clippers guard Lou Williams steals the ball from Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the first half Tuesday night.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

LeBron James sat in his chair with his body twisted sideways midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers close enough to mount a comeback. But he wouldn’t return with seven minutes and 51 seconds left and the Lakers down by seven points.

Then with 3:37 left in the game and the Lakers down by six, Anthony Davis took a seat on the bench, not far away from James, his night also over.

What stood out the most from the Lakers’ season-opening 116-109 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night was coach Frank Vogel demonstrating how he might be using James and Davis in the early part of the season.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

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1. By the time the game was over, James had played 28 minutes and Davis 31.

James finished with 22 points on seven-for-17 shooting, five assists, five rebounds and more than enough rest. When he went to the bench in the fourth for good, the Lakers trailed 99-92.

Davis completed his night with 18 points on eight-for-15 shooting, seven rebounds and more than enough rest as well. When he went to the bench in the fourth for good, the Lakers trailed 112-96.

A look at the top photos from the Lakers-Clippers season opener on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

“We’re going to be conservative with their minutes early on in the season,” Vogel said after the game. “We have the depth to do it. We didn’t play well enough tonight. But we have depth to manage their minutes intelligently early on in the season while we’re trying to get our legs under us and will continue to do so.”

2. In his first game as a Laker, Dennis Schroder nearly collected his first career triple-double. He had 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Schroder left an impression on his coach.

“Dennis is a dynamic player,” Vogel said. “In 27 minutes, he almost had a triple-double. With his ability to score, with his ability to get into the paint and defensively he’s really strong as well. So, he’s a winning player.”

Schroder, a finalist for sixth man of the year with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, said during preseason that he wanted to be a starter in the NBA again, and he got his wish.

His double-double was the first time he had produced that stat with rebounds being one of the categories.

“I mean, we’re still trying to find ourselves,” Schroder said. “We’re trying to learn each other, me Anthony Davis, LeBron. I mean, we’re just trying to get on the same page. We had 10 days together now. I think four or five practices. So we just got to find ourselves. I just tried to click right in it.”

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3. Montrezl Harrell didn’t miss a beat, showing why he was the NBA’s sixth man of the year last season.

In his first game with the Lakers against his former Clippers teammates, Harrell had 17 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes.

“As far as how I played, that doesn’t really matter,” Harrell said. “It’s a team sport. Like I said, I felt pretty good out there.”

4. The Lakers were pathetic on defense in the first quarter, giving up 39 points and falling behind by 22 points to the Clippers. They let the Clippers have their way, watching them shoot 70% from the field, 50% from three-point range.

The Lakers played better defense in the second quarter, holding the Clippers to 17 points on 28% shooting (7 for 25), 18.2% from three-point range.

But the Lakers gave up 33 points to the Clippers in the third and 27 in the fourth. That was another sign that the Lakers need to work on their defense.

5. All training camp, Vogel said he had a deep team and that he would expand his rotation.

He did, rotating 11 players when the game still had meaning, including training camp sensation Talen Horton-Tucker.


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