The Lakers fell to 0-3 in the preseason with a 105-97 loss to Toronto, but since it’s the preseason, the outcome of the game hardly matters.
Here are a few takeaways from tonight’s game:
Randle Shines Again: Julius Randle was very impressive for a second consecutive game. Coming off a game where he had 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting, Randle followed with a 17-point effort on 7 of 10 shooting. He was strong all-around as he added 5 rebounds and 3 assists and continued to impress on defense. Randle has looked very comfortable out there the past 2 games and Lakers fans have to be encouraged with what they see. Before last year’s draft, I personally would have taken Randle with the 2nd overall pick behind only Andrew Wiggins, so his success thus far in preseason has not surprised me. The ceiling is very high for him and it is a pleasure to see him come back strong from last year’s injury.
Upshaw Sighting!: Most Lakers fans would probably agree that it was great to see Robert Upshaw finally see the floor in a preseason game. The 21-year old undrafted rookie played 25 minutes and finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Upshaw is fighting for one of the last roster spots on the Lakers and helped his chances with tonight’s performance. It would be a mistake to not include a player with Upshaw’s talent and potential on the roster, so hopefully he is able to play well for the rest of preseason and lock up a spot on the team.
Kobe’s Minutes: A 37-year old player in his 20th season having a set limit of minutes for a game should be the norm instead of a story, but Kobe Bryant is an exception. Thankfully, Kobe Bryant wasn’t out there for 35+ minutes tonight as Byron Scott announced before the game that Kobe would play around 20 minutes. He ended up playing 22 minutes and finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists on 5 of 11 shooting. Kobe had a relatively quiet start to the game, but was able to find a rhythm later on. He sunk the first shot of the game and then was held without a point until early in the 2nd quarter. From the 10:12 mark until the 2:19 mark of the 2nd quarter, Bryant and Randle scored 17 straight points for the Lakers.
Return of Russell?: It was an unfortunate, but very wise decision to keep D’Angelo Russell out of this game. His injury looked extremely scary when it occurred, but fortunately it looks as if it is not too serious. The Lakers will have their first home game of the preseason this Sunday against Maccabi Haifa and hopefully Russell will feel good enough to return by then.