The Los Angeles Lakers opening preseason game against the Golden State Warriors went about as badly as an opening preseason game can. While I am not one of the fans who is going to panic at the sight of a blowout loss, but it is readily apparent that the bench will need to work out some issues. Although the Warriors did leave their starters in for a majority of the game, the Lakers allowing them to score 35 straight points is simply ridiculous. You may be the 15th guy off the bench, but the fact that you are even in a position to be playing says something, you have the talent to play in the NBA.
Disregarding the bench play, which may be hard to do for many Laker fans, and looking at how your key players come out of the game is definitely key for every NBA team in the preseason. For the Lakers it is no different. Having a team with aging stars makes it key for not just the said stars to stay as healthy as possible, but also the bench players who will play a key role in providing as much depth as possible.
Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, and Pau Gasol, all came out of the game, Jordan Hill not so much. The absence of Dwight Howard was expected by everyone, thus the increase in Hill’s minutes who would be playing a key backup role to Gasol, and fill-in starter Robert Sacre. Hill wound up herniating a disk, certainly the last thing the Lakers want to hear after having to deal with so much talk about centers backs, (ala Dwight Howard), for these past few weeks.
But on a day where many fans were beginning to allow hints of doubt for a championshop caliber season come into their mind, they received amazing news. Hill’s herniated disk will not need surgery, and he will be back this month. The news should also end all rumors of Kenyon Martin to the Lakers. For Laker fans the good news kept piling up.
It was revealed earlier today that Dwight Howard has now been medically cleared to take part in 5-on-5 contact drills. He can take part in practice, scrimmages, and probably even a full game if he needed to. But seeing as how this is simply the preseason, Howard will not play tomorrow night when the Lakers take on the Portland Trail Blazers at Citizens Business Bank Arena, in Ontario, Ca. Howard may wind up not playing in any preseason games, and to the Lakers that is perfectly fine. The team will not push Howard into playing too soon, he will play when he is ready and comfortable.
While in practice on Tuesday evening, though Howard seemed once again like his old self. Reporters saw Howard block a few shots, throw down some ferocious dunks, and even do a chin-up on the rim. It seemed like the old Howard was back. And to the Lakers, that’s music to their ears.
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