Lakers opening shows their stars are not yet lined up

LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis still remembers the story that brought him to Los Angeles: “Can he do it under the bright lights?” Davis ha...


LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis still remembers the story that brought him to Los Angeles: “Can he do it under the bright lights?”

Davis had been a stats star with the New Orleans Pelicans before making his way, landing with the Lakers in a trade before the start of the 2019-20 season. His first game was against the Clippers, who limited him to a below-average effort in a loss to the Lakers. Davis subsequently fought against his locker. LeBron James, who was sitting next to him, advised him to calm down.

“You’re fine,” James told her. “This is the first game. “

And then James quickly started laughing again at everything he looked at on his phone.

It was a trade that stuck with Davis, who ended up playing well enough this season to help deliver the first Lakers championship in 10 years. And it was the one Davis fondly remembered Tuesday night after the Lakers’ season-opener loss to the Golden State Warriors. Something seemed familiar to him.

New teammate Russell Westbrook had put in a forgettable performance on his regular-season debut for the Lakers – 8 points in a frustrating 35 minutes – which prompted James, with help from Davis this time around, to deliver yet another keynote speech. encouragement after match 1.

“We’re with him,” Davis said of Westbrook. “It’s his job to continue to be himself, and we’re going to help him go through all the little avenues and these challenges along the way.”

James said he told Westbrook to go home and watch a comedy.

“Do something that can put a smile on his face,” James said. “He’s so hard on himself.

A game doesn’t mean much when there are 81 left to play. For the Lakers, their great experience – as many aging stars, only one basketball – will resume Friday against the Phoenix Suns, who eliminated the Lakers from the playoffs last season. Following that first-round outing, the Lakers took advantage of the summer to surround James and Davis with a fascinating cast of characters, including Westbrook, the 2017 Most Valuable Player Award winner and a triple-double factory at his. apogee.

Now 32, Westbrook is more polarizing than ever. Can he produce without having the ball in your hands most of the time? Can he find his jump shot? Will he help the Lakers, or ultimately hurt them?

Again, the Lakers’ 121-114 loss to Golden State was only the first game of many. But it was a clunker for Westbrook, who finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 4 of 13 from the field. In the 35 minutes he was on the field, the Lakers were outscored by 23 points. He also had four turnovers and one technical foul.

His press conference was brief and quite monosyllable.

What did it mean to him that James and Davis had encouraged him in the locker room? “We talked,” Westbrook said.

What did he think of the atmosphere at Staples Center? “I would say I wasn’t paying much attention, to be honest,” he said.

OK, what if this was his first regular season game for the Lakers, his home team? “Nothing different from a normal game day,” he said.

You got the idea. The spotlight will only shine brighter from here – on the Lakers, Westbrook and the team’s decision to trade for him this summer instead of making a deal with the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield, a Shooting guard who would seem better suited playing with the ball with James and Davis.

“Him more than anyone, this will be a period of adjustment,” coach Frank Vogel said of Westbrook. “It fits into our culture, our system. He’s the new one, and he must find his way.

Vogel cited the team’s patchwork preseason as an explanation for some of Westbrook’s hiccups. No one has played so many minutes together. Westbrook’s numbers in four preseason games – 35% shots, 23 team turnovers – would have been more alarming if the preseason really meant anything.

For his part, James said he suspected Westbrook succumbed to “Game 1 nervousness” as a player who saw the Lakers grow up.

“And now you put on a Laker uniform and walk into the Staples Center,” James said. “I can only imagine how many friends and family have contacted him in the past 48 hours.”

The real referendum on Westbrook’s viability will unfold over the next few weeks, although there are bigger questions about how this Lakers squad was put together. Over the past few seasons, they’ve basically emptied their list from the young players they’d drafted and were working to develop – everything from Brandon Ingram to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – in favor of acquiring older, brighter players.

Golden State provided a useful counterpoint to the Lakers’ approach on Tuesday by introducing Jordan Poole, a third-year goaltender who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and helped make up for Stephen Curry’s poor shooting night. Klay Thompson, who is should come back at Golden State roster in a few months after missing the last two seasons with injuries, watched from the bench.

Note: These three players are Golden State draft picks. The team continues to grow from the inside out as the Lakers go shopping each summer.

It wasn’t all bad news for the Lakers. James and Davis were as dynamic as ever, accumulating 67 points. But they could have needed help.

“I have to figure it out,” Westbrook said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Lakers opening shows their stars are not yet lined up
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