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Carmelo Anthony says Lakers’ veterans are optimistic despite their winless preseason


Los Angeles Lakers forwards LeBron James (6), Carmelo Anthony (7) and Anthony Davis (3) watch on the bench during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The Lakers were about to board a plane for a game in Sacramento, when Carmelo Anthony put down his meal, sat down and let the media in the room on a little secret.

Yeah, patience has been a theme for the Lakers’ stars whenever they’ve been asked how long it’s going to take for the Lakers to look like a team with stars instead of stars on the same team. But maybe, just maybe, there have been enough glimpses in the last two weeks for optimism to exist even with the team winless heading into their preseason finale with Sacramento.

In their first outing together, Anthony, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook looked far from perfect. But up close, the view was a little different.

“We can see how we jell together. I thought we had some great moments when all four of us were on the court together,” Anthony said. “We had spurts where we were very in-tune, we were locked in. We don’t expect it to happen overnight. But I thought yesterday was one of those moments where like, ‘OK, we see that, we see that.’

“It looks good. It felt good. I believe we will build off of that.”

Any construction this preseason has been, at least in part, hampered by injuries. While the Lakers are optimistic Kendrick Nunn’s ankle and Malik Monk’s groin could heal by opening night, an MRI revealed Wayne Ellington had a Grade 1 strain in his hamstring. His status for the opener Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors is unclear.

Add in Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb surgery) and Trevor Ariza (ankle surgery), and the Lakers will be without at least five players Thursday against the Kings in what Frank Vogel is calling their final dress rehearsal. But the key pieces — Anthony, Westbrook, Davis and James — will all be available.

“I don’t know if we’ll go the whole game, but they will be in there again playing significant minutes, to use another night to try to catch a rhythm,” Vogel said.

Everyone thinks the Lakers will need time, that they’ll have to slowly assimilate to one another as they try to maximize their talent. But Anthony said this isn’t unique to these Lakers. Good teams start the season and go through ups and downs. And then they discover who they are.

“You find your groove,” Anthony said. “I think we’ll figure it out much quicker than people are giving us credit for. But that’s on us. That’s something, we take that challenge. That’s something we know and that’s something we talk about. Even though it’s preseason and we lost some games, that’s definitely something that we talk about. How do we speed that process up without cheating?

“And I think we’re very aware when it comes to that.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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