The Los Angeles Lakers fell to 0-3 in the preseason after losing to the Golden State Warriors, 121-114.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook made their preseason debuts after not featuring in the first two contests, and the rust for both was evident immediately.
Westbrook tallied six turnovers in the first quarter alone, with many coming against Golden State’s zone defense.
Both teams had a sloppy start to the game but gradually acclimated to things as the clock progressed.
The Warriors won the second quarter by 14 points to take a 59-49 lead at halftime and eventually pushed the lead to over 20 in the third.
Los Angeles responded with a furious comeback in the final quarter led by Talen Horton-Tucker, Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, but L.A. didn’t have enough to pull it off.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have work to do
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
It wasn’t surprising that the two debutants struggled to find a rhythm right away, and it highlighted the work that must be done.
Westbrook and James shot a combined 5-of-19 overall, and they couldn’t solve the Warriors’ zone defensive schemes with the spacing issues.
But this is why preseason games are important. The Lakers specifically need these two stars to figure things out as soon as possible, and games like this allow them to watch the film and see where they can improve.
Having Anthony Davis back, who didn’t play for rest purposes, will also be an adjustment process.
Dwight Howard can still be an effective backup
Dwight Howard is a great center to have at minimum value. The future Hall-of-Famer understands his strengths and seeks to stick to them at all times. When he’s not fouling, he can be extremely effective.
That was the case against a much smaller Golden State squad. Howard dominated with 23 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block on 8-of-11 shooting with a 7-of-11 clip from the free-throw line.
Howard missed an open dunk during the fourth-quarter comeback, but he’ll be imperative off the bench going forward.
Talen Horton-Tucker is coming along
The Warriors had a difficult time slowing down the 20-year-old guard. Horton-Tucker made his first appearance in the third quarter but left his mark on the game.
He displayed flashy dunks, one-legged fadeaways, rim penetrations bursts and more en route to a 17-point outing in 20 minutes. He didn’t play any minutes with James or Westbrook, but he’s turning heads with every passing game.