He’s seen an added emphasis on professionalism and attention to detail throughout the team lately.
“Whether they got sick of losing or whatever it was, the whole team has really brought it, kind of like how we got after it in training camp, the last few weeks in practice,” Walton said.
Here are five takeaways from last night's game.
1. Julius Randle scored 19 points with nine rebounds and five assists; D’Angelo Russell had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Walton said he has seen a change lately in how both players prepare and how hard they work in practice.
2. Russell said Walton told him four or five games ago that it was time he developed a routine.
“Luke kind of just notified it to me and said that I should try it and that’s what I did,” Russell said. “… I didn’t have a routine. I told you about that. Same routine after practice, after shootaround. Just the same schedule.” Russell said it’s helped him be more comfortable and successful.
3. In the not-so-distant past, third quarters have menaced the Lakers. On Sunday night, the Lakers dominated the third quarter defensively. Their offense wasn’t particularly inspiring during that third quarter, but it didn’t matter because the Magic scored only nine points, making two of 20 field goals.
“I think we just really focused on coming out in the third quarter and really being locked in,” Randle said. “We’ve given away a lot of leads and having come out in the second half strong individually… individually, guys are stepping up, coming out ready.”
4. Brandon Ingram’s eyes often rest in a sleepy-looking position, but his energy even this deep into the season has been strong.
“A lot of times you can physically see when a rookie hits that wall,” Walton said. “They can’t even keep their eyes open in a film sessions. He’s alert, he’s in there early. He wants more every time I talk to him.”
5. The Lakers have won 15 games already and could eclipse last year's total wins of 17 by the end of the month. In fact, they should. In the rest of January, the Lakers play Portland twice, Denver twice, and San Antonio, Dallas, the Clippers, Detroit and Utah. They are capable of winning at least two of those games. Admittedly, that hasn’t always meant they will.