EL SEGUNDO — For 10 minutes, the Lakers allowed the outside world to see what their team could look like this fall.
The snippet of Tuesday’s practice that was open to the media played out to the soundtrack of shouting, as Anthony Davis drilled a stepback jumper, LeBron James muscled in for a layup, Dwight Howard dunked in an open lane and DeAndre Jordan hit a contested shot at the rim.
Wrapping up the session, James drove but lost his handle near the rim, playfully kicking the ball to the ceiling in mock frustration.
It will be at least the end of the week until there’s any more than that glimpse of the fully intact Lakers: James and Russell Westbrook still won’t be playing in the team’s second preseason game on Wednesday afternoon in Phoenix. Davis, who played 11 minutes in Sunday’s opener, and Carmelo Anthony will get a chance to play, but Coach Frank Vogel said he’s planning to also hold back one of his veteran centers, Jordan or Howard.
For now, the Lakers will only show their full strength in brief glimpses, or refer to it during post-practice commentary. Playing primarily with a smaller lineup with Davis at center, flanked by Anthony and Malik Monk at the two unclaimed positions, Vogel said Westbrook helped set up four consecutive baskets for Davis on Tuesday.
“I think this is going to be really good in terms of what he can do, in terms of touching the paint,” Vogel said. “His speed and his computer, his mind, being able to pick apart where the help is coming from, is similar to Bron in terms of putting pressure on the rim or find the open man.”
While resting a center might indicate that the Lakers intend to start a smaller lineup against Phoenix, Vogel said the decision hadn’t yet been made. With two true centers in Jordan and Howard, some have speculated that the Lakers might alter starting lineups based on the opponent – whether they need to play big or small. But Vogel said he’s not eager to toggle back and forth once the Lakers settle on a starting five.
“I don’t really want to go a situation where we’re changing lineups on a regular basis,” he said. “Hopefully, when we start the season, we can settle into our base look. And then audible from time to time if needed. But, I don’t want to be changing every other game.”
Westbrook spoke after practice, somewhat muted in his enthusiasm for a 3 p.m. tip-off in Phoenix on Wednesday. But overall as a Laker, Westbrook is still brimming over with excitement about joining the franchise he treasured as a child.
Westbrook feels daily appreciation for his opportunity – and said earlier in the day, he had mentioned it to Anthony while sitting in the practice facility.
“Sometimes I just sit back and be like, ‘Damn, truly blessed to be able to be here in Los Angeles,’” he said. “But not just that, playing for your hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, is a blessing in itself.”
After a career of often being contentious with the media, Westbrook has spent the last few weeks marketing an upcoming self-produced documentary, “Passion Play,” that he said will explain a lot of his enigmatic personality. Westbrook appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Monday night to promote the film, which premieres on Oct. 15 on Showtime.
“When I come across people, they automatically assume I’m a bad person or (expletive) or I’ve done something to them,” he said. “But nobody actually really knows me enough to actually say things about me. So it gives you a kind of overview of who I really am. I let everybody in, which I haven’t ever done before in the past for that particular reason.”