Dwight Howard was sometimes a half-step behind plays and occasionally… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
The Lakers have yet to win an exhibition game but the addition of Dwight Howard on Sunday had an immediate influence on the team's performance.
A single game with Howard may not be enough for a full evaluation, but the team's performance against the Sacramento Kings certainly gave a sense of how much stronger the Lakers can be when whole.
Offense - Boost
In stretches the Lakers' offense seemed effortless on Sunday.
In the first five games, the Lakers as a team shot 39.4% from the field and 32.9% from three-point range. With Howard they shot 49.3% and 41.2%, respectively.
The Lakers also had almost eight more points and two more assists than their averages over the previous five exhibitions.
Offense - Dip
Of course, the new Lakers center is a notably poor free-throw shooter. The team's percentage dipped with Howard to 65.5% on Sunday after shooting 74.8% in his absence.
Howard was clearly rusty, especially offensively. The Lakers turnovers shot up to 22 on Sunday, four from Howard as he misplayed passes or mistimed moves in the post.
Defense - Boost
The Lakers allowed teams to shoot 46.7% from the field and 42.5% from three-point range through the first-five contests. The Kings shot just 40.7% and 33.3%, respectively.
The Lakers also pulled down three more rebounds, collected one additional steal and committed four-less personal fouls.
Defense - Dip
Although Howard rejected four shots, none of his teammates was credited with a block, dipping below the squad's average of five.
Whether it was Howard, more time for the starters or greater familiarity in the offense, the Lakers gave their best performance of the preseason on Sunday.
Naturally they'd like a victory, but exhibition games are more about learning and preparing for the season than the final score.
The Lakers won't be tested again until Wednesday night they "visit" the Clippers.
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