LOS ANGELES—Warriors coach Steve Kerr is a curious as any NBA observer to see how former league MVP Russell Westbrook blends with incumbent Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis as part of the latest “Big Three” to chase a championship together in Los Angeles.
Kerr was on the visitors’ bench when the Lakers’ star-studded, veteran trio played together for the first time this preseason on Tuesday night, when all three scored in double digits during the first three quarters of a 111-99 loss to Golden State.
“It’s a fascinating combination and all three have been amazing players,” Kerr said. “To see how it all works together I’m sure is something the whole league will be interested in.”
Kerr recalled being a TV analyst when James joined his first “Big Three” in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, and how much better Wade and James in particular played together the longer they were teammates. The Heat lost in the finals the first year those three were together before winning championships the next two seasons.
“Generally speaking, this stuff takes time,” Kerr said. “It’s going to look much different at the end of the year than it does now.”
Davis scored 20 in 30 minutes; James added 17 points in 26 minutes; and Westbrook had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 28-plus minutes.
But James and Westbrook also combined for 11 turnovers.
“That’s to be expected early on when guys are learning each other,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’re working on getting on the same page with that stuff, but it’s the first time they’re playing together. So, I’m more concerned about getting us connected on the defensive end.”
Westbrook wasn’t ready to forecast how long he expected it to take for him, James and Davis to fully adjust to playing together
“I know that’s a question everybody keeps asking. Nobody has a real answer for that. We’re just going to play just like any other team and then we’ll figure it out. We don’t need to figure it out … whenever the first game is. We have one goal in mind and that’s to win a championship. So, during the season there will be ups. There will be downs. There will be adversity. As long as we’re together on the same page is all that matters.”
James, too, preached patience.
“It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we’re capable of being. So, it’s all about working the process, being patient with the process, understanding that we’re going to have frustrating moments,” James said. “Russell’s always been a league-leader in pace, so we want to get up and down, but we want to be smart about it at the same time and not turn the ball over like we’ve been doing. That’s learning each other.”
Kerr gave stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green the night off, and Klay Thompson still isn’t ready to return from right Achilles surgery. But those Warriors who were in uniform appeared energized by the opportunity to play against and Lakers’ squad running a dress rehearsal featuring most of their veteran stars.
Jordan Poole scored 18 for the Warriors, highlighted by his driving tomahawk dunk late in the third quarter. Damion Lee and Otto Porter Jr. each scored 16 points.
The Warriors and Lakers match up against next Tuesday on the opening night of the regular season.