Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James (6), Kendrick Nunn (12) on the court together during a 105-75 preseason loss to the Sacramento Kings on Monday, October 3, 2022. (Courtesy Photo)

Los Angeles Lakers first-year head coach Darvin Ham preached “everything starts on the defensive end” as the team rolled out its starting unit for limited minutes during their preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings.

The Lakers ultimately fell to the Kings 105-75 on Monday night at Crypto.com Arena but it was the defensive potential of the starters that led to Ham’s positivity.

“I thought it was great,” said Ham after the Lakers’ first unit held the Kings to 41 first-half points while leading 46-41. “That’s who exactly we wanna be. Who we have to be.”

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes while Russell Westbrook added five points, three assists and two rebounds in 15 minutes.

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Ham put all speculation on Westbrook possibly being elsewhere to rest after stating he is a Laker and will be a major contributor this season.

“He’s ours. We love him. And we want him to do well. … It’s been a great camp for him.”

LeBron James finished with only four points in 16 minutes, going 0-of-7 from the field.

“I’ve been 0-fer before. … That’s the last thing on my mind, as far as makes or misses,” James said after the game. “It’s about working our habits offensively and defensively, putting in the stuff we’ve been doing over the week and we all got some pretty good looks tonight.”

Kendrick Nunn also got the start in the backcourt for the Lakers and finished with nine points in 20 minutes. Nunn’s highly awaited debut took place after he missed last season after recovering from a knee injury.

“Kendrick has been one of the many bright spots in camp. His offense, he’s shot the ball extremely well. I’ve challenged him defensively, and he’s made strides,” Ham said. “He’s earned it.”

“It felt real good. Getting my legs back under me, my speed, my strength, I felt real good out there,” Nunn said.

Nunn joins a crowded backcourt that includes Westbrook, Patrick Beverley as well as Lonnie Walker and Dennis Schroder who missed Monday’s game.

“I think we’re all proud: He came a long ways,” Davis said. “And to play with that rhythm and to make your first shot kind of takes away the butterflies.”

Los Angeles struggled in the second half while playing its second unit the rest of the way, who was outscored 64-29 by Sacramento.

“Teachable moments in the second half for the young guys, but I’m really thrilled with the way we played in the first half,” said Ham.

The Lakers will next travel to Las Vegas where they will take on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.

Both games are scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena.