Lakers ‘trending in the right direction’ midway through preseason play – Press Enterprise
ANAHEIM — There isn’t a direct correlation between preseason and regular season success.
Four of the six teams with the best preseason records in the Western Conference last season didn’t make the playoffs – including two that didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament. The team with the league’s best regular-season record last season, the Milwaukee Bucks, went winless (0-5) in preseason play.
Preseason is used to work on concepts, reestablish rhythm after four to six months away from the court and sort out lineup/rotation questions before the games start to truly count in the standings.
But getting positive outcomes, like the Lakers’ 109-101 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at the Honda Center, can help.
So while the focus remains more on the process and not the results even more than usual, the Lakers have been encouraged about their 2-1 play midway through preseason games.
They’ll play the Golden State Warriors on Friday night at Crypto.com Arena, the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday in Los Angeles and the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 19 in Palm Springs to wrap up their exhibitions.
“It’s always good when you can see what you’re working on on the practice floor, what you’re working on in the film sessions, what you’re talking about. The message you’re preaching,” Coach Darvin Ham said. “And to see that turn into a W, even though these are a bunch of test runs, it’s still good to see that the information is being transferred, evaluated, embraced and carried out on the game floor. It’s always great to have success at the end of that.”
Sometimes preseason play can set the tone for the beginning of the regular season.
The Lakers’ 1-5 play in last year’s preseason preceded an 0-5 and 2-10 start to the regular season. On the other side of things, their 4-0 record during the 2020-21 preseason came before a 6-2 and 11-3 start to the regular season.
“It’s always nice to win but it’s all about the process,” guard Gabe Vincent said. “Especially right now in the preseason. We’re trending in the right direction but there are certain things that we’re trying to focus on and work on.”
Ham said a focus coming into this season was improving the team’s transition defense, which was an area of improvement from last season.
They’re also utilizing different types of setups for their offense, trying more five-out actions to create space in the paint and forcing defenses to spread out.
The Lakers are still a work in progress, even with them already having more wins midway through this preseason than they did in the previous two combined (1-11).
“Everything,” Vincent responded when asked what the Lakers need to improve on during their remaining exhibition games. “When you talk about playing in June, we got to clean everything up a little bit for sure. We’re trending in the right direction. It’s a long season. It’s going to be a process. But we’re getting there.”
WARRIORS AT LAKERS
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Crypto.com Arena
TV/radio: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN2, 710 AM
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