Patrick Beverley, the pest-for-pay guard the Lakers acquired in August, sliced through the purple team’s defense late Saturday morning at a recreation center on the Pechanga Reservation. Before the ball could clear the net, Beverley trained his eyes on the opposing bench and yelled something quickly at LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
Old habits, turns out, die hard.
Yet as James’ purple team closed out a scrimmage in front of about 200 reservation residents with a win, he found Beverley’s team and quickly celebrated — an exchange that captured a big piece of what the Lakers want to be this season.
“We’re going to be competitive,” Davis said.
In a lot of ways, it’s the least that should be asked of a professional basketball team. In reality, the NBA season can lead to a dominance of big-picture thinking, last year’s Lakers always pointing to a future date when they’d be healthy and ready to roll. That date, of course, never came.
It’s also a byproduct of who is on the team — these aren’t just stars, they’re Hall of Famers — James, Davis and Westbrook honored last season among 75 of the best NBA players ever. With those kinds of stars on the roster, teams sometimes can expect to ease into the season.
But coach Darvin Ham, he doesn’t want the Lakers to ease into anything.
His practices are structured and stationed, built with an emphasis on efficiency that requires maximum attention and energy in short windows.
“There’s no need to ease when you’re being efficient with your time, which is what we do in practice. We keep everything on a tight time schedule, and we’re moving from one thing to the next constantly. … It keeps energy there just to listen, get to it, get off of it, get to the next thing, listen, get to it, get off it, get to the next thing, so it’s like a humming situation that goes into how we present things and how efficient we are with our time.”
If the practice structure helps with some of this, Beverley adds another spark — another relentless humming that almost always causes a response.
“That’s Pat. That’s Pat,” Davis said with a laugh. “But, I mean, that’s that competitive spirit that he brings to our team. So now, he’s doing that, we’re like, ‘What?!’ So now, we’re coming in and trying to [respond.] Well, it started because Bron dunked on [Jay] Huff earlier, so Pat wanted to get their team going. But that’s the fun we have and the competitive spirit.”
Sorta opening night
Ham said he has not made any final decisions about who will play when this preseason, but the hope is to have Westbrook, Davis and James on the court when the team opens its preseason schedule Monday in Los Angeles against the Sacramento Kings.
James and Davis have said they hope to be involved more in the preseason this year.
The Lakers hope to have Dennis Schroder join the team by this week. He’s still dealing with visa-related issues. … Lonnie Walker IV was cleared for full contact, while Troy Brown Jr. is still dealing with a back injury. … During the open scrimmage, center Damian Jones attempted a corner three-point shot, and it sounds like the possible starter will have a green light. “The way he’s shot the ball since we’ve been working out and different shooting drills, he’s capable of making that shot — more than capable,” Ham said. “I know, no disrespect Robin, but if I have Robin Lopez making threes, I’m sure I can [get] Damian Jones to make threes.” … The team is off Sunday.