Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol of Spain walk towards the bench for a time out after losing possession of the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

Your Los Angeles Lakers are 0-2 and look very confused


Stability mattered more than ever this season. Shortened training camps and just two preseason games means switching systems was going to be a challenge.

But Jim Buss was intent on wiping all traces of Phil Jackson from the Lakers, not keeping Brian Shaw and the triangle offense with a team built to run it. No, Mike Brown is in as coach with new systems on both ends of the floor. The result is confusion.

The bottom line is the Lakers are 0-2 after falling 100-91 to Sacramento Tuesday. That is two games in a row where they played poorly at the end (they blew an 11 point lead Sunday, scored on basket in the final three minutes Monday). Look at the words of Metta World Peace after the game to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

“We had two games in the preseason, and Coach (Mike Brown) is trying to figure out who he wants to start. We had Andrew (Bynum) in the preseason. One game he started Matt (Barnes), and the next game he started Devin (Embanks). Now he’s going with Devin, so now everyone has to get accustomed to a whole new look. We played two games with Andrew, and now he is out for four games. It’s normal to have a little letdown right now, especially given the circumstances that we’re under.”

The Lakers defense was not good in this one as the Kings guards were able to beat their man on the perimeter and get in the lane, and the Lakers missed Andrew Bynum to clean that up (he is serving the second game of his four-game suspension for flattening J.J. Berea in the playoffs). Tyreke Evans had 20 points and did a lot of the damage; Marcus Thornton had 27 to lead the Kings. But since the preseason the Lakers pick-and-roll defense has been bad and until they fix it they will see a steady stream of it.

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were not bad, but neither was dominant either. Gasol was outworked on the glass, Kobe needed 24 shots to get his 29 points.

The Lakers long-range shooting woes continue over from seasons past as L.A. was 1-of-16 from beyond the arc. This kills their inside-out offense Mike Brown wants to install — the Kings defense collapsed on Gasol and took away driving lanes inside but never paid a price for falling back.

Where the Kings really made their runs was against a Lakers bench pressed into big minutes on the second night of the Lakers back-to-back-to-back to start the season (they lost to the Bulls on Christmas and have Utah in Los Angeles on Wednesday).

These are the nights you look at that young Kings core and think they could be special in a few years, if they all grow and mature their games together. Evans was maybe the best player on the floor, a leader, Thornton was efficient and the Kings seemed to get all their key shots to fall. We’ll see if there can be more of these nights, but if you are a Kings fan that wants to believe this is what you need to see.

For Lakers fans, it’s too early to panic. But it’s not too early to be concerned about what the ceiling is for this roster.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.