Mike Brown didn’t beat around the bush. Leading up to the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Warriors in Fresno, he said he didn’t care either way if the team won or lost.
Perhaps he didn’t envision a 35-0 run from the Warriors against his squad over the third and fourth quarters, which included a Reeves Nelson airball at the free throw line. The Warriors defeated the Lakers 110-83 at the Save Mart Center. Brown was unfazed, he even gave the team Monday off.
Sunday night was about the new look Lakers and their Fantastic Four — Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard. Three of the four played. Howard, still recovering from back surgery, sat on the bench donning a brown bow tie, taking in what it’s like to be a Laker for the first time.
When Bryant went to the free throw line for the first time, Howard joined in with the partisan Lakers crowd and chanted “MVP.”
What Howard saw from his seat on the bench was the debut of the Princeton Offense, with Nash at the controls and rookie Robert Sacre replacing him at center.
The offense was pretty crisp, considering it was the first time out. Nash was also able to get out in transition. In the early going, he pitched it ahead to Bryant who threw the alley-oop to Gasol to put the Lakers up 4-0.
In 15 minutes of play, Nash displayed a command and controlled the offense just as he did against the Lakers throughout his career. Later in the first, he made a beautiful pass between the legs of Warriors rookie Festus Ezeli that found Sacre for two to put the Lakers up 10-6 in the first quarter.
Nash finished with five points and three assists on two-of-three shooting.
With the great ball movement triggered by Nash, Gasol seemed to benefit the most from easy looks, scoring six of the team’s first eight points. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Lakers starters were 10-of-15 from the field in the first quarter and led 26-17. The Lakers took a 56-49 lead into the locker room at halftime. Offensively, the Lakers didn’t run the Princeton exclusively. Nash had the liberty to run pick-and-rolls at will, much like on the play he found Sacre on.
Bryant was tied for the team lead with 10 points along with Metta World Peach and Jordan Hill.
The starters did not play in the second half.
Another of the key summer acquisitions, Antawn Jamison, had three points, four rebounds, and three assists in 17 minutes off of the bench.
The Lakers will next face the Blazers on Wednesday in Ontario for their second preseason contest.