The Los Angeles Lakers saw a familiar face in Malik Monk during their October 3 preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings, and Lakers star Anthony Davis took some playful shots at his former teammate after the game.
Though the Lakers disappointed last season, Monk was a bright spot, providing strong play after signing a one-year minimum deal. He played a career-high 28.1 minutes per game while registering 13.8 points on 47.3% shooting, nailing almost 40% of his 3-pointers.
He earned himself a two-year, $19 million deal with the Kings this offseason, and Davis made sure to rib Monk a little after seeing him for the preseason affair.
“He sucked. I told him that I didn’t know what he was doing tonight,” Davis told reporters with a grin.
Monk played 15 minutes off the bench, notching 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting with 6 rebounds.
“I said, ‘It’s about time you got some rebounds. You weren’t rebounding for us last year,'” Davis said. “I told Malik, ‘I’m glad you left us. You playing terrible tonight.’ Probably part of the reason we were losing was because of him. Ask him — I told him. He know.”
Davis then let up, saying, “That’s my guy.”
Lakers Show Upside Despite Lopsided Loss
The Lakers played their stars sparingly but looked solid in the first half, with LeBron James, Davis and Russell Westbrook seeing time on the court. The Lakers held a 46-41 lead at the half but ultimately fell 105-75.
First-year head coach Darvin Ham was pleased with what he saw from the group, especially on defense, which he was preaching in the early going of camp.
“To give up 21 and 20 points in each quarter, that’s exactly who we want to be — who we have to be,” Ham said. “Everything starts on the defensive end for us.”
The Lakers are still tinkering with their starting lineup, but Kendrick Nunn made a good first impression with the unit. After missing all of last season with a bone bruise in his knee, Nunn finished 4-of-7 from the field with 9 points.
“I think we’re all proud: He came a long ways,” Davis said. “And to play with that rhythm and to make your first shot kind of takes away the butterflies.”
LeBron James Not Worried About Cold Shooting Night
Davis led the way for the Lakers, notching a double-double in just 16 minutes. It was his co-star, LeBron James, who logged an unforgettable stat line, going 0-of-7 from the field with just 4 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist. He was able to laugh off the rough night.
“I’ve been 0-fer before. … That’s the last thing on my mind, as far as makes or misses,” James said after the game. “It’s about working our habits offensively and defensively, putting in the stuff we’ve been doing over the week and we all got some pretty good looks tonight.”
All eyes have been on Westbrook heading into the year and he was solid in limited time, collecting 5 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds.
The Lakers face a quick turnaround before their next preseason tilt, against the Suns on October 5. Phoenix is coming off a stunning loss to Australia’s Adelaide 36ers.