Lakers’ starting lineup wasn’t hard to predict
About two hours before the Lakers opened the regular season against the Clippers at Staples Center, Coach Frank Vogel said he wasn’t going to announce his starting lineup “until 30 minutes prior” to the game.
When the mystery was over, Vogel obviously started LeBron James and Anthony Davis at forward, Marc Gasol at center, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard and Dennis Schroder at point guard.
There really wasn’t a surprise there.
Yes, Kyle Kuzma started the first three exhibition games and was sharp.
But with his team being so deep, Vogel decided to go with that fivesome, saying, “We’re going to look at a lot of different combinations” during the 72-game season.
“This whole first months to six weeks of our season is going to be about exploring different lineups and combinations,” Vogel said. “We’ll be creative with it and learn a little bit more about our team and focus on our habits.”
A look at the top photos from the Lakers-Clippers season opener on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Playing time for James
As James enters his 18th NBA season, Vogel has to decide how much to use his forward.
James averaged 34.6 minutes per game last season. He also averaged 25.3 points and 10.2 assists, tops in the NBA.
James, who signed a two-year extension for $85 million, will be 36 on Dec. 30.
“I do want to just peel back on his minutes as much as possible,” Vogel said. “The risk of peeling back his minutes too much is…. In talking to our medical team, you want to just keep him in rhythm as much as possible. If he’s out there for long stretches, that’s when it becomes riskier. Or if he’s on the bench for too long of a stretch and has to come back in cold, that’s where there are riskier situations. So we have a rotation built in for him where he plays more short bursts, gets shorter rest and stays within what his body is used to.”
Lue excited to be a head coach again
Ty Lue is back in the lead seat, excited to be head coach of the Clippers after being the assistant last season.
Lue had been fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers after an 0-6 start to the 2018-19 season. He had directed them to three straight NBA Finals, winning the title in 2016.
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic raging and with no fans in the stands, Lue is happy to be the lead man again.
“I’m very excited, you know, just, you know, very blessed to be able to start the season, you know, with what’s going on the world right now with the pandemic,” Lue said on a videoconference before the game. “You know it’s unfortunate times and we all got to get through it together. That being said, I’m very excited to get back on the sideline close to the game I love. The game has given me everything I have in my life, you know, as well my family, so I’m excited to get back out there and make another run at it.”
Morris still injured
With Marcus Morris out with right knee soreness, Lue started Nicolas Batum at forward. Batum started all three exhibition games for the Clippers, averaging just three points on 25% shooting, including 33.3% from three-point range.
Lue has said he likes they way Batum has passed the ball in practice and during games and this his defense has been solid.
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