Break up the Lakers. That's two in a row.
These are unexpectedly fun days for them, with no illusion of a championship parade but snippets of hope for the future.
D'Angelo Russell continued to delight fans at Staples Center. Julius Randle added scoring to his typically productive board work. Jordan Clarkson was under the radar again, stealthily scoring 24 points in a 107-98 victory Tuesday over the Orlando Magic.
Even lottery gazers could relax until further notice. The Lakers (14-51) still held the NBA's second-worst record and remained four games behind the similarly surging Phoenix Suns in the standings.
The victory didn't come with the drama of beating Golden State two days earlier but marked the first time Russell (27 points), Randle (23 points) and Clarkson each scored at least 20 in the same game.
“This is what we thought they could play like,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said.
The future might not be now. Two games is a dangerously small sample size. Yet a corner might be getting turned, even if it isn't the corner down Figueroa to the Coliseum in June.
“These two games, hopefully, if that's any indication of how we can play for the rest of the season, I think we'll all be pretty happy,” said Scott, who tried to tell players that the upset of Golden State should be forgotten.
He mentioned it after Monday's practice. And at Tuesday morning's shoot-around.
Randle added 11 rebounds for his 28th double-double, most among second-year players. Rookie Larry Nance Jr. almost had one of his own, totaling eight points and 10 rebounds.
Russell hasn't stopped elevating his game, creating his own shot with increasing ease and converting with added confidence.
“Experience is helping me see things clearer,” he said. “A lot of reads and stuff are coming more second nature to me. I just feel like I'm getting better as far as individual progress and knowing when I mess up.”
Russell, for the record, didn't like talk of Lakers' corner-turning.
“You guys all ask that really soon,” Russell said. “We've got to string some more wins together before we start going down that road.”
A longer trend continued Tuesday: Kobe Bryant didn't play, extending his habit of sitting out home games in favor of road ones.
Since announcing his retirement, he has played 15 of 25 games (60%) at Staples Center and 24 of 25 games (96%) away from the arena. He skipped a game at Oklahoma City with the knowledge the Lakers would play there again next month.
Bryant's right shoulder continues to be the reason listed for his absences at home games. He sat at the end of the bench Tuesday in a dark suit. There were cheers during scoreboard promos of his past great games during timeouts.
“Kobe, we love you!” shouted a fan in the second quarter during a lull in play.
Thursday's game is right in Bryant's wheelhouse despite being at home. It's against Cleveland, providing one last chance to play against LeBron James, and it's a TNT exclusive.
Scott said Bryant would be “50-50” for that game.
“It's against one of his good friends,” he added. “He would love to play. I also think that he's really using his better judgment and not trying to force the issue.”
Nick Young started in Bryant's place Tuesday and went scoreless in 23 minutes, probably the Lakers' lone poor stat line.
Victor Oladipo had 26 points for Orlando (27-36), which went without injured center Nik Vucevic.
Reality might return when Cleveland comes to town. The Lakers can smile until then, assuming they didn't forget how.
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