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Lakers’ Big Three make their debut in preseason loss to Warriors

Lakers forward LeBron James shoots over Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II.
Lakers forward LeBron James shoots over Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) during a preseason game Tuesday night at Staples Center. James had 17 points in the Lakers’ 111-99 loss.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

Steve Kerr saw it as a broadcaster for TNT, sitting courtside on Thursday nights in Miami or other NBA cities as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh tried to make their all-world talents translate to championships. He saw it with an even better seat on the bench, watching Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant run through the league.

And on Tuesday night, he got another in-person look at a superstar trio — James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook — making their debut together, albeit in a preseason game, for the Lakers against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

“Generally speaking, this stuff takes time,” Kerr, Golden State’s coach, said. “The good thing is, you know, if you have guys who want to be together, they’re going to commit to each other. And that seems to be the case here. I think these guys all want to play together. And so they’re going to figure it out. They’re all great players and smart players.

“But it’ll take time. It’s going to look much different by the end of the year than it does now.”

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Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker will undergo minor surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.

It looked mostly like the other games, the Lakers again losing 111-99 to the short-handed Warriors. The Lakers (0-5) are winless on the preseason, and a loss Thursday night at Sacramento would match their worst preseason performance since 2012.

The early returns from the Lakers’ stars were mostly predictable, passes not quite on point as the three players worked extra hard to set one another up instead of being comfortably aggressive. But the talent was undeniable, especially with James, Davis and Westbrook playing against a team resting standouts Curry and Draymond Green.

Davis finished with 20 points, James had 17 points and six turnovers, and Westbrook had 10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five turnovers in the loss. The Warriors outscored the Lakers by 20 points after a strong first quarter for Los Angeles.

The Lakers' Russell Westbrook passes the ball to Anthony Davis while defended by Golden State Warriors' Kevon Looney.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, left, passes the ball to forward Anthony Davis, right, while being defended by Warriors center Kevon Looney.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

With only one more exhibition game left before the Lakers take on the Warriors again in the regular-season opener next Tuesday night at Staples Center, it’s impossible for the Lakers’ big three to already be in sync.

“Well, you know, it could take all year, to really be at our best,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, “and ideally, that’s when we are at our best, going into the playoffs. But we have the mindset to hit the ground running and come out of the gates really strong with things clicking as best as we can.

“It’s reasonable to think that, you know, there’s going to be some bumpy nights early in the season.

That, based on the evidence presented to those watching preseason games, seems like a guarantee.

Kent Bazemore’s energetic play and defensive skill against the Phoenix Suns impressed Lakers star Anthony Davis and coach Frank Vogel.

Vogel and Lakers players have been generally pleased with the team’s behind-closed-door practices, James even saying he believes those are more important than the preseason games.

“The ball’s gone in the basket more,” Vogel said with a laugh when asked about those workouts. “I just think those three guys together, there’s been a lot of sequences where we put a lot of pressure on the paint. We haven’t done that well enough [in preseason games]. ... That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Notes

The Lakers agreed to a two-way contract with forward Sekou Doumbouya, a former first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons. … Center DeAndre Jordan rested Tuesday after appearing in the Lakers’ first four preseason games. Wayne Ellington (hamstring) and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) also didn’t play. … Talen Horton-Tucker underwent thumb surgery Tuesday and will be evaluated in four weeks.


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