The pre-season games are underway and it already looks like it’s going to be a tight season for the Los Angeles Lakers. They’ve got the players. They’ve got the big stats. But their muscle team faltered by the third quarter of the first pre-season game against Utah Jazz. What was that all about?
The Lakers had the game in their pocket in the second quarter. At half-time, they were eleven points ahead of their opponents, moving that ball with lightning-speed and dumping in those long shots. But Jazz decided not to fold, through thick or foul; and foul was being called a lot that night. There were 22 free throw attempts in 24 minutes of the first half. They tied the score with the Lakers 69-69 by the third quarter and surged ahead to win, 99-86.
Call it a pre-season warm-off. The Lakers become more formidable when things start boiling down to the play-offs. They have king players, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, who have both won MVB trophies, but Bryant has been doing a bit of bench sitting with a shoulder injury. He was scratched from the line-up against the Portland Trail Blazers, and though he’s back in play, his game could still be a little off. Not so for Steve Nash, however. He still continues to razzle and dazzle; whether he’s picking up a ball in transition, shooting a pass between the defensive player’s legs, or cutting along the base line; once he has control of that ball, he has no intention of losing it.
The upcoming Sacramento game should be more than just a little interesting. The Lakers have just hired a new coach; Reggie Theus, who has seen more than a small share of basketball glory. Theus’ career includes 14 seasons with five teams in the NBA, making two all-star teams, and rallying up a total of 19,015 points before retiring as a player. He had two successful seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State before transferring as head coach for the Sacramento Kings. He worked for the Kings for eighteen months before being fired in 2008. Replacing coach veteran, Eric Musselman, who joined Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State last month, Theus may just be looking forward to the opportunity to avenge himself against Sacramento.
Sacramento says it’s not shaking. It won its preseason game against Portland, at 91 – 80, and it’s ready to take on the Lakers. There’s bound to be plenty of fast action and stomping in the bleachers as the preseason games get underway.