Lakers Get Set for Preseason Opener

After four days of battling against each other, the Lakers will get their first clash with guys in different uniforms on Saturday.

The team is a day away from its preseason opener against Minnesota in Anaheim, and head coach Luke Walton expects his players to be amped up for the occasion.

“It’s nice, when you go at each other every single day, to finally go at someone else,” Walton said on Friday. “I’m excited for (the players).”

Walton said that he figures Saturday will be pretty sloppy, considering that the team has practiced for less than a workweek.

He and his coaching staff are more excited about getting more practices in before regular-season opening night on Oct. 19.

They will certainly be more prepared by then, as Walton said that the team has none of its half-court offense put in, and just some of its transition and secondary offenses.

Of course, that transition play is what Lakers fans have been waiting for ever since drafting Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in June.

Ball — who led the NCAA in assists last year with his gifted passing — has been as advertised at training camp, improving his record to 6-0 during the team’s scrimmages.

According to Walton, his impact may not even require him to put up a shot.

“I don’t know if he even shot a single time in the scrimmage last night,” Walton said. “But he instantly builds chemistry with whatever team he’s playing on.”

And Ball already has plenty of chemistry with his fellow No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram.

“Zo’s gonna make everyone better, in my opinion,” Walton said. “He’s one of those players that does that. … Brandon will also make Zo better with his length and his ability to get out and run and be a target and be able to teach him what he went through as a rookie last year.”

Defensive savant Kentavious Caldwell-Pope feels that playing against Ingram in camp has confirmed what he already thought about the 20-year-old.

“Kid can score the ball,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I’ve been watching him since he’s been in the league. He can score the ball.”

Ingram spent the offseason working on his explosiveness, frame and jump shot. Adding this combination would be a nice boost after he showed a natural talent for attacking the rim with his length as a rookie.

“I feel like I’m a matchup problem, but that’s of course because of my height and the height difference at my position sometimes,” Ingram said.

Internally and externally, Ingram has some big expectations placed on him this year.

One of his goals is to win the Most Improved Player award, and President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson has challenged him to be the Lakers’ leading scorer.

But Walton wants him to focus on simply playing his own game.

“I’m under the belief that he’s going to be, over time, one of the better perimeter players in our league,” Walton said. “And I told him, ‘Don’t put too much pressure on yourself,’ because honestly it doesn’t need to happen right now.”

Injury Report
Brook Lopez (back spasms) and Josh Hart (hamstring) were both able to play full-contact five-on-five at Friday’s practice. However, neither will play in Anaheim on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut still cannot practice due to issues with his visa, but the team expects him to be available soon.

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