The Los Angeles Lakers Big 3 of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook set foot on the court together for the first time in preseason in a 111-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Despite missing Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the Warriors kicked on in the fourth quarter as both teams emptied their benches, led by 18 points from Jordan Poole, while Damion Lee and Otto Porter Jr. added 16 apiece.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with a game-high 20 points, while LeBron added 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals and Westbrook 10 points, 10 rebounds and six dimes.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who's no stranger to Big 3s himself, saw plenty of promise in what the Lakers are building.
"Generally speaking, this stuff takes time," Kerr said. "The good thing is, you know, if you have guys who want to be together, they're going to commit to each other. And that seems to be the case here. I think these guys all want to play together. And so they're going to figure it out. They're all great players and smart players.
"But it'll take time. It's going to look much different by the end of the year than it does now."
Let's jump into some notes from the Big 3s debut.
1. Westbrook picks up the pace
Russell Westbrook's fit alongside LeBron James is arguably the biggest factor in the success of the Lakers BIg 3, with both ball-dominant stars most effective controlling the offence.
Tonight we saw stretches where they took turns, with Westbrook focused on facilitating for his teammates. He found LeBron with some nice passes for a few early buckets as he went on a personal 6-0 run in the first quarter.
"It's going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we're capable of being. So, it's all about working the process, being patient with the process, understanding that we're going to have frustrating moments," James said.
"Russell's always been a league-leader in pace, so we want to get up and down, but we want to be smart about it at the same time and not turn the ball over like we've been doing. That's learning each other."
2. Rondo x Davis as good as ever
While much of the intrigue surrounds Wesbtrook's fit on the team, it's another newly-signed point guard that we've seen bring out the best in Anthony Davis, in the form of veteran Rajon Rondo.
From their time in New Orleans to their previous stint together on the Lakers in their championship-winning season, the pick-and-roll chemistry between the pair has picked up right where it left off, combining for a pair of highlight-reel alley-oops in the first quarter.
Rondo to AD, Part II https://t.co/rhJ62upnGW pic.twitter.com/JfDkgjCZ6s- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 13, 2021
Davis was the most impressive of the Big 3 tonight, recording 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. Surrounded by playmakers in LeBron, Westbrook and Rondo, the big man already looks in stride on both ends, getting up and down the floor.
It's only preseason, but turnovers have been a recurring theme for the Lakers through their first five games.
Westbrook (5) and LeBron (6) accounted for 11 of the team's 20 turnovers tonight, which the Warriors turned into 15 points.
While they seem unfazed by their sloppy start in that department, they've turned the ball over at least 16 times in each of their preseason games and 20+ in their last three.
4. Carmelo Anthony's signature rebounds
When Melo is going up for a rebound, just get out of the way.
The 37-year-old brought down five baords and delivered his signature "I got it [expletive]" line as he went up to collect.
Anthony added 13 points on the night, none better than this alley-oop flush off Westbrook's dime.
Brodie keeping it Melo. pic.twitter.com/QgfEuCxErQ- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 13, 2021
5. It's still early
The Lakers are going to take time to mesh and although they're 0-5 so far in preseason, the goal of these games is to get a feel for the new additions and work through the rotations.
"It could take all year, to really be at our best," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "Ideally, that's when we are at our best, going into the playoffs. But we have the mindset to hit the ground running and come out of the gates really strong with things clicking as best as we can.
"It's reasonable to think that, you know, there's going to be some bumpy nights early in the season.
The Lakers close out their preseason play on Thursday (ET) against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center.
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