It took until the third of the Lakers’ six preseason games, but finally, fans of the purple-and-gold will get what they’ve been waiting for since August—a view of Russell Westbrook in action in a Lakers uniform. Westbrook sat out the first two games of the preseason, along with fellow star LeBron James.
James, too, will be making his preseason debut, coach Frank Vogel announced on Friday ahead of L.A.’s game against the Warriors. However, the other leg of the team’s Big 3, Anthony Davis, will not be suiting up. Vogel was clear that he’s been letting the team’s veterans decide when they’d like to take the floor for the preseason games.
“We’re just taking it game-by-game and letting them decide how they want to monitor the early part of the preseason,” Vogel told reporters. “They both said the first two they’d probably sit out, being afternoon games, and they’d like to get in this third one.”
Vogel Wants to See ‘Super-intense’ Approach from Lakers
Vogel has appeared pleased with what he has seen out of the Lakers at this point of training camp, even though the team is 0-2 in its opening preseason contests, and has allowed a whopping 240 points combined. The Lakers have allowed 46.2% shooting and 40.4% 3-point shooting in those games.
But those were played without James and Westbrook. Bench stars Dwight Howard missed the Lakers’ second game and Carmelo Anthony missed the opener. Vogel also announced that DeAndre Jordan would return to his role as the starting center. Davis started at center in the second preseason game.
More than personnel, though, Vogel wanted to see a better approach on Friday, one he has seen more in practice than in preseason outings.
“I just want to see the intensity with which we have practiced when those guys are in there,” Vogel said, “because it’s been super-intense, a lot of up-tempo, a lot of fastbreak basketball that is exciting to see. Hopefully it will be that way throughout the year, and hopefully that starts tonight.”
Vogel also said the guard Malik Monk, who had averaged 16.5 points on 56.5% shooting in the two preseason games, would get a look as the starting shooting guard.
Vogel on Trevor Ariza Surgery: ‘This Was the Best Course of Action’
One player we will not be seeing in the preseason, or for the first eight weeks of the year, is veteran Trevor Ariza, who entered camp with a chance to win one of the starting wing jobs. But Ariza had surgery on a bothersome ankle injury this week and will be out at least until early December.
Vogel said he knew about the injury ahead of camp, but that Ariza thought it was something he could play through and allow to heal on its own.
“Trevor did everything he could to see if he could get through the injury without missing any time, without any procedures,” Vogel said. “Ultimately, it came down to making sure we got it cleaned up and hopefully we will get him back as soon as we can.”
Vogel said that the team tried to nurse Ariza through the injury by taking it easy on him in camp, but that it ultimately was not healing correctly.
“He didn’t do the contact portion, if I recall correctly,” Vogel said. “But he did all the running and the non-contact drills and it just was not where it needed to be. He went through further evaluation and we decided this was the best course of action.”