Lakers’ preseason ends with a loss to the Suns

Photo of Lebron James in the match against the Suns.

During a 123-100 defeat against the Suns in Thousand Palms, the Lakers deployed a lineup that closely mirrored their expected regular rotation, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves.

The Lakers wrapped up their six-game preseason series with a 123-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday evening at Acrisure Arena. They featured a lineup that closely resembled what is expected to be their regular-season rotation for the first time this preseason.

LeBron James and Austin Reaves made their return to the lineup after playing just two exhibition games each. They were part of the starting lineup, alongside D’Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, and Anthony Davis.

Coach Darvin Ham refrained from confirming whether this lineup would be the starting five for the regular-season opener against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, as forward Jarred Vanderbilt was unavailable for Thursday’s game.

During the preseason, the combination of Russell, Reaves, Prince, James, and Davis started all three games when James and Reaves were available.

Ham expressed that he doesn’t believe he missed any crucial observations due to varying player availability. He stressed that the team’s development is an ongoing process and emphasized the significance of the players’ physical condition.

In the game, James led the Lakers (2-4) with 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 22 minutes, while Davis contributed 15 points and blocked six shots in 23 minutes. Reaves added 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 24 minutes. Ham made a full substitution of the starting lineup during the third quarter.

In addition to Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent (lower back soreness) and rookie guard Jalen Hood-Schifino (right knee contusion) were unavailable for Thursday’s game.

Vincent’s absence was described as a precautionary measure to ensure he would be ready for the regular-season opener.

Without a primary playmaker for the second unit, the Lakers, who held a 65-64 lead midway through the third quarter, lost control of the game. The Suns outscored the Lakers 59-35 over the final 18½ minutes.

Initially, Thursday’s game was expected to serve as a test run for both teams. The Suns, who also played without starting guards Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, were getting ready for their first regular-season game against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

Kevin Durant played for the Suns in the first half, marking the first time James and Durant had faced each other since December 25, 2018. Durant scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes.

The Lakers and Suns will square off again next Thursday in the Lakers’ home opener at Arena, which will mark the first James-Durant regular-season matchup in nearly five years.

Former Lakers and current Suns coach Frank Vogel described both James and Durant as iconic figures in the game of basketball and noted the anticipation among fans for their on-court reunion.


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