Darvin Ham and Lakers taking a more serious approach to preseason

No butterflies. No pre-game photos on the pitch. No extra moments of reflection on the drive to the arena.

Just work.

“It’s game day,” Darvin Ham said ahead of his first game as Lakers coach, exuding the calm, confidence and control that helped him land the job this offseason.

When Ham wasn’t in the mood for sentimentality, new Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown cooked up some and offered a few verses when asked if, in the season that began with a matchup between the two men, poetry gave.

After all, it was Brown who, as coach of the Lakers, hired Ham as an assistant for the team in 2011.

“I think so. Let me see. …

“Darvin Ham. I got him into the league a while ago.

“Hopefully I can get him a kick tonight.

“If I see him on the street… I would never challenge him to a fight.”

Preseason is a good time for a laugh, and Brown’s pregame poem delivered quite a bit. However, last year’s preseason for the Lakers turned out to be more trouble than poetry as the team looked poor at 0-6.

This season began the same way, with a 105-75 loss to Sacramento.

Lakers star LeBron James shoots over Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis in the first half of Monday.

Lakers star LeBron James (left) shoots over Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis during the first half of Monday.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

On Monday night at the Crypto.com Arena against Sacramento, the Lakers took a more serious approach, with Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook all playing in the preseason opener rather than sitting out the show. Davis even showed up in the team’s initial injury report, though he was “probable” with lower back strains.

“Just a little quick test run,” Ham said. “Putting your toe in the water for the first time, so it’s supposed to be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing how they compete and how they execute on what we’ve been working on for the past week or so.”

That first look started with Damian Jones and Kendrick Nunn starting alongside James, Davis and Westbrook.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook jumps as he guards Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox in the first half.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook jumps as he guards Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox in the first half.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“They all fit,” said Ham, although he said the starters would be runny. “The way they played together and the way the ball moves, we’re excited to see what that looks like tonight.”

It was Nunn’s first action on the pitch since a bruised bone crippled him preseason last year. He promptly made his first shot – a corner three-pointer from a Davis assist.

And although Austin Reaves, Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker could all fill that spot in the lineup, Ham said Nunn deserved the opportunity on Monday.

“Kendrick was one of the many bright spots at the camp. His offense, he shot the ball extremely well. I challenged him defensively and he made progress,” Ham said. “He deserves it.”

Nunn finished with nine points in 20 minutes. He and Davis were two of the lone offensive bright spots in a game in which the Lakers shot 31.2 percent from the field and quickly lost a halftime lead as the starters sat early in the third quarter.

Remarks: Speaking of Walker, Ham said the Lakers’ biggest free-agency commitment will be clean of an ankle injury and should play when the team faces the Phoenix Suns in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. … Former Lakers Malik Monk and Kent Bazemore are with Sacramento. Monk was one of the Kings’ first guards from the bench. … Troy Brown Jr., Walker and Dennis Schroder all missed Monday’s game. The Lakers are still hoping Schroder will join the team this week pending problems with his work visa.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2022-10-03/darvin-ham-lakers-sacramento-kings-preseason-recap Darvin Ham and Lakers taking a more serious approach to preseason

Emma Bowman

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