Having endured a season full of frustration last year, from the saga with Dwight Howard, a first-round playoffs sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, and team captain Kobe Bryant suffering a torn Achilles tendon, the Lakers find themselves rebuilding in several different ways.
With some new additions to the team, including forwad Nick Young, the pursuit of finding a cohesive chemistry during this preseason continues.
On Thursday night, Oct. 11, inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Lakers would fall to the Sacramento Kings, but the scoreboard didn't tell the whole tale of the evening.
After a competitive first half that saw Los Angeles leading 50-48, the Kings gained serious momentum in the third quarter and seized full control down the stretch. The final tally saw Sacramento prevail 104-86, as they improved their preseason record to 1-1 while the Lakers dipped to 2-2.
Kings’ star center DeMarcus Cousins put in another solid night, collecting 16 points and 12 rebounds while the Lakers were led by Jodie Meeks and Young, who tallied 19 and 17 points respectively.
Despite the setback, the overall vibe in the Lakers’ dressing room was upbeat.
Asked how the preseason experience has been thus far, Meeks chalked the loss up to the team having an off night more than anything else.
“I think we’re playing well,” Meeks stated. “Playing good as a team. We’ve just got to cut down some of the mistakes. Tonight we just didn’t play very well. We didn’t shoot the ball very well.”
Veteran guard Steve Blake, entering his fourth year with the organization, insists the process of bonding as a team has been rewarding thus far.
“Experience has been great,” Blake stated. “All the players enjoy playing together. Good team atmosphere. We struggled tonight but for the most part it’s been fun.”
Blake was quick to point out just how much the team misses Bryant at this point and seems to already be envisioning his eventual return.
“He means a lot,” Blake said respectfully of the 15-time All Star. “Everyone knows what he can do. Obviously, when he comes back a lot of the offense will go through him. Things will change a lot. When he gets back he’ll fit right in and we’ll have to try to gel and figure it out again.”
Young is presently in his first season with the Lakers but noted just how welcoming his new teammates were upon his arrival. This kind of camaraderie, says Young, has helped make the transition that much smoother.
“Most definitely,” Young affirmed. “It’s happening early and it’s a good thing. Sometimes you have teammates who you don’t get along with. So far, everybody’s been getting along.”
Asked if he feels the team is being overlooked because of the absence of Bryant, Young seemed to agree.
“We’re much better than what people think,” he stated. “It’s showing, but it’s a process.”
No time to rest for the Lakers, as the team will be traveling to China tomorrow to begin a two-game stint against the Golden State Warriors.
Meeks was asked what he is expecting with the forthcoming trip and while a peek at a new lifestyle may be interesting, his ultimate concern is the continued progression of his team.
“Looking forward to having a good time,” stated Meeks. “Experiencing some new culture. Obviously getting better, working on my game, and trying to win both games. Just experiencing China and having a good time with my teammates.”
Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com