Lakers remain a mystery as Darvin Ham follows his ‘strategic’ preseason plan
Soon enough, it’ll be a complete picture. For now, it’s just pieces, an incomplete picture of what the Lakers are right now and still a mystery of what they will be.
It’s probably not ideal, the Lakers moving into their second week of preseason action with little actual proof of what LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook look like against the opposition.
Playing its fourth preseason game in the last seven days, the team again didn’t have its top stars available — with James, Westbrook and veteran guard Patrick Beverley all resting Sunday against the Warriors.
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The closest the Lakers have been to full availability this preseason, at least at the top of the roster, was Monday in their first game this preseason.
“It’s strategic,” Darvin Ham said. “It’s the plan we put together before hand and we’re sticking to our plan.”
For James, Westbrook and Beverley, that meant a second straight game off after sitting in the second of a back-to-back Thursday night in Las Vegas. Davis, who didn’t play Wednesday because of lower back tightness, returned to the starting lineup Sunday.
In less than 22 minutes, Davis scored 28 points, hitting two of four from three-point range. It’s an encouraging sign for the Lakers’ big man, who has been one of the worst three-point shooters over the past two seasons. Last year, on 70 attempts, he made only 13 (18.6 percent).
The Lakers, as a group, have been that kind of cold through their first three games before finally heating up in San Francisco.
Matt Ryan, who is competing for the Lakers’ final roster spot, hit six three-pointers in the second half to help the Lakers win 124-121, their first preseason victory since 2020.
The win is the first for the team since the 2020-21 preseason following the bubble season, but its secondary to the way the Lakers are still trying to navigate the games leading to the start of the season.
“It’s been an interesting schedule to say the least. But, we feel good about the plan that we set forth,” Ham said. “And we’ve left ourselves some room within some points in the schedule where we can pivot one way or the other. And we feel good about where we are. Those last two games will be more regular-season like in terms of the rotation and who is available.
“I feel like we’re right on course with what we need to do.”
The team is scheduled to be more complete this week with Dennis Schroder in Los Angeles, set to join the mix following physicals and medical examinations on Sunday.
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Troy Brown Jr. likely to miss opener
One player unlikely to be on the floor when the Lakers return to Golden State next week is free-agent signee Troy Brown Jr.
Because of a back injury, Brown has yet to participate in a full Lakers’ practice, and despite an intense on-court workout before Sunday’s game with the Warriors, Ham said he probably won’t be ready for the court when the regular season starts.
“This is just a plan that was put in place way beforehand and even though a guy is able to go through an individual workout doesn’t mean he’s quite capable of playing versus contact or in a real NBA game as well,” Ham said. “Again, he’s right on schedule with what he’s supposed to be doing. And hopefully, when we do get him back...we’re excited about him. He was having a great summer before he hurt his back. But it’s par for the course — injuries are a part of sport, a part of our daily lives.
“We just want to be careful with him and, again, stick to the plan and do what we set out to do.”
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