John Locher/Associated Press
LeBron James‘ Los Angeles Lakers did something his Cleveland Cavaliers could not do in June: get a win over the Golden State Warriors.
It just wasn’t James who led the way.
Brandon Ingram scored 26 points and Kyle Kuzma added 22, as the Lakers earned a 123-113 preseason victory over the defending champs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
James finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 18 minutes.
LeBron-Led Lakers Starting Five Showing Promise
Every Lakers starter finished with a positive plus-minus. Every Warriors starter but Damian Jones finished with a negative plus-minus.
The differences were minuscule, but small wins are still wins against this Warriors team.
The key to Ingram’s development this season appears to be getting to the line. He’s already had two games where he attempted 15-plus free throws this preseason, including an eye-opening 17 on Wednesday. The Lakers should be concerned that he’s only hit one three through five games, however.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be the biggest benefactor of playing with LeBron. He’s an excellent spot-up shooter and solid defender who is going to swish his way to the bank with some easy 20-point nights like he had against Golden State. His total lack of playmaking skills won’t even be noticeable on a team that has LeBron and Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup.
Rondo will hopefully not keep that starting spot long. He threw up a goose egg on the scoreboard in 19 minutes and was outplayed by Lonzo Ball, who made his return from a knee injury. Ball had seven points, four rebounds and four steals.
The Lakers are far from title contenders, so they should be continuing to push their chips all in on Ball’s development. Rondo is more of a one-year rental until they figure out another superstar to pair with LeBron, so showcasing Ball alongside James is best for all sides over the long term. Lonzo just needs to work his way back into game shape.
But for now, the starting lineup looks solid.
Warriors Big Three Looks Ready for Regular Season
Draymond Green (and DeMarcus Cousins, obviously) didn’t play, but the Warriors’ three other top-20 NBA players remain good at basketball.
Stephen Curry led all Warriors with 23 points and five assists, getting to the line nine times. Curry was responsible for 81 percent of the Warriors starting five’s free-throw makes. Interestingly enough, Curry also only took three three-pointers.
Could he be losing his touch? Who’s to say? (Me. And the answer is absolutely…not.)
Klay Thompson did the most damage from beyond the arc for the Dubs, knocking down a team-high four triples on his way to a 20-point night.
Kevin Durant had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
I don’t know. These guys are good. They don’t even really need the preseason. So…kudos to them.
The Warriors and Lakers will play each other again Friday to close out their preseason schedules. Then the Warriors will open their regular season Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Lakers travel to Portland for a matchup with the Blazers on Thursday.