Lakers’ preseason opener reveals areas for improvement, and some bright spots

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — When Lakers coaches huddled up to dissect the first preseason game of the LeBron Lakers era, they learned a lot from studying the exhibition contest closely, scalpels in hand.Coach Luke Walton said he was pleased with his team’s pace and effort, and particularly with JaVale McGee’s 17 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes: “He was good,” Walton said. “Good in real life, and on the tape.”But Walton also discovered lots of ways the Lakers can get better following the 124-107 exhibition loss to the Denver Nuggets – which was, of course, partly an academic exercise played for the sake of study — Sunday night in San Diego.“The negatives were our defense,” Walton said Monday after practice. “We were sloppy with our switching, we fouled way too much. Denver runs good stuff, so it was good practice for us but we’ve got to get much better. But we know that, and that’s why we’re making that a priority.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBrandon Ingram’s post-practice comments seemed indicative of how often defense came up at practice: “If everybody is active on defense, we have a lot of length on the team and just by showing our length, it gives us a presence on the basketball floor,” he said, adding, “Whether individual defense or talking vocally on defense, it’s really the same thing every day, so we can have it in the backs of our minds.”Walton also found room for improvement from Ingram despite the third-year forward’s impressive showing (16 points, two steals and a blocked shot).“He had a couple possessions offensively where we didn’t get the ball movement we wanted (from Ingram),” Walton said. “They were switching us and he just pulled up for a mid-range jump shot.”Otherwise, Walton said he was “still pleased post-video session,” commending Ingram for his activity, for running the lane, for cutting – and for talking.The topic of talking is almost as oft-discussed as defense around the Lakers practice facility, where the veterans are coaxing the quieter younger players out of their shells. LONZO STILL OUT, LEBRON INJames will play when the Lakers take the floor against the Nuggets again Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center, but Lonzo Ball will not.The second-year point guard returned to full practice last week but was held out Sunday as the Lakers remain cautious with him following the knee scope he had this summer.“He’s not gonna play tomorrow,” said Walton, who said practice sessions are nothing compared to the punishment players endure during games. “There’s nothing like playing in those NBA games as far as how hard you have to compete, and cutting and the ways you get hit with screens.”BEASLEY CLEAREDMichael Beasley underwent an MRI and saw an eye doctor Monday, both of whom cleared the new Laker to attend practice, Walton said.Beasley’s debut Sunday with the team was done after six minutes, when the 6-foot-10 forward suffered what was described as a head laceration, leaving the court complaining about problems with his vision.His eyesight was much improved Monday, Walton said: “He made a nice corner 3.” How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years “It takes time,” Walton said. “It’s an uncomfortable thing for a lot of people. Everyone feels comfortable talking around the house or in the locker room with their friends, but you get out in front of other people, for whatever reason, it’s challenging.“Where I see the difference starting to happen is the alertness. We need that to turn into being loud, for the whole group. Be willing to call out a teammate if someone made a selfish play without getting feelings hurt, those types of things. I see the awareness starting to change, but the talking still needs to get a lot better.” Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Related Articles Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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