No Kobe Bryant. No Lamar Odom. No Mike Bibby.
It felt like mid-July inside the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday night instead of late October as the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings met in both teams’ final NBA preseason tuneup.
With the stars missing from both teams, it was more like the Vegas Summer League with the notable exception being the fact that the 10,089 fans who showed up, including Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Barry Bonds, had to pay up to $92 to sit downstairs compared with the $22 they would fork over for the summer league.
The Lakers made do with more of what little they had than the Kings did, posting a 101-97 win as ex-UNLV star Reggie Theus returned to his alma mater, this time as an NBA coach with Sacramento.
“It was kinda strange being back, even though I didn’t play in this building,” Theus said. “But the guys got a kick out of seeing my number (23) hanging from the rafters.”
The Kings have major issues to deal with when they tip off the regular season Wednesday in New Orleans. Bibby, Sacramento’s starting point guard, tore ligaments in his right thumb during Thursday’s practice in Las Vegas and is expected to be out as long as two months. Forward Ron Artest has to sit out the first seven games of the season as the NBA suspended him in the aftermath of his domestic violence case.
“It’s going to be tough,” Theus said of the retooling he’ll have to do with his lineup. “You can only do so much. But it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up.
“I’ve seen my share of injuries on teams I’ve played on. All you can do is make whatever adjustments you can and not stray from the premise of playing hard and giving effort.”
On Friday, Theus gave Quincy Douby and Francisco Garcia the bulk of the minutes at the point while Artest made a token appearance, playing just less than seven minutes. Because Artest won’t be available at the start of the season, John Salmons started in his spot and probably will start there Wednesday against the Hornets.
The Lakers’ injury issues aren’t as dire. Bryant’s sprained right wrist should be well enough for him to play in Tuesday’s opener against Houston at the Staples Center. Odom, who is recovering from offseason surgery on his shoulder, said he is a couple of weeks away from returning to the court.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson had three starters available with Luke Walton, Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic playing regular minutes and Ronny Turiaf working at Odom’s power forward spot. The former Gonzaga star was active throughout, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. Andrew Bynum also delivered offensively, working over the Kings’ interior defense for 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds as the Lakers wrapped up the preseason 3-4.
The teams combined for 38 turnovers, with Sacramento committing 21. Of equal concern to Theus was the fact his team generated just 17 assists and his two point guards failed to produce a single assist between them as the Kings finished preseason play 3-5.
Another reason they came up short was Coby Karl’s fourth-quarter shooting. The son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl who has beaten thyroid cancer and is trying to make the final cut, had 10 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter when the Kings were up 82-76. He hit two 3-pointers and a baseline runner to help the Lakers retake the lead at 88-84.
When asked if Karl did enough to earn a roster spot, Jackson said, “We don’t have to turn in our roster until Monday so we’ll wait until then. But he did play well tonight.”LOS ANGELES — 101 SACRAMENTO — 97
• KEY: Forwards Ronny Turiaf and Andrew Bynum scored 18 points apiece for the Lakers, who outscored the Kings 50-38 in the paint.