From the moment Josh McRoberts stepped onto the court, he wasted very little time making his presence felt.
On back-to-back possessions, he connected on an alley-oop lob from Kobe Bryant and then found Pau Gasol open with a back-door pass. McRoberts admits still needing more time to grasp Mike Brown's offense a week after the Lakers acquired him through free agency. But many of the 18,463 fans at Staples Center witnessing McRoberts in purple and gold for the first time in the Lakers' exhibition game Monday against the Clippers would've hardly guessed he felt lost.
When McRoberts makes his starting debut at power forward Sunday in the Lakers' season opener against Chicago, he'll hardly replace Lamar Odom's services. But as evidenced by his early minutes in the Lakers' first preseason game, he'll provide enough grit and hustle to ease the burden Gasol faces starting at center in place of a suspended Andrew Bynum.
"I'm excited," McRoberts said after practice Saturday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. "I'm ready to get going."
Incidentally, McRoberts professes he didn't feel comfortable in that first preseason game when he instantly impressed fans with his hustle and smart decision-making. That didn't happen until the Lakers' second preseason game Wednesday against the Clippers. Then, McRoberts didn't necessarily stop Blake Griffin from making highlight-reel plays, but he remained chippy enough to energize the rest of his team. With the Lakers' depleted frontline facing Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah on Christmas Day, it remains critical that McRoberts maintains the ability to help down low and dial up the Lakers' intensity.
"I have a still long way to go," McRoberts said. "Don't get me wrong. But I'm happy I'm a little more comfortable."
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org