The Lakers are trying to trust Julius Randle
After Randle went scoreless for maybe the first time in his life Thursday, the Lakers immediately put the ball in Randle’s hands and let him go to work early in the first quarter.
With Randle going, his activity on the glass picked up. His activity guarding Harrison Barnes picked up. And, with the game on the line at the end of regulation, Luke Walton called a play that put the ball in Randle’s hands (at least temporarily).
That Randle didn’t score there didn’t end up mattering – he scored four points in overtime and the Lakers won. But by going to Randle, the Lakers and Walton signaled faith in the up-and-down big man.
Tweet little, too late
Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson both showed support for Walton on Twitter on Saturday – an important gesture in the wake of LaVar Ball’s comments a week ago.
Privately, Walton’s confident in the front office’s support, he said, and publicly, the tweets should calm some of the noise.
The problem is it took almost a week for someone to say something other than an opposing coach. In the end, the Lakers fueled more speculation with their silence, making an uncomfortable situation even worse.
Ingram’s bad timing
Brandon Ingram’s stretch of great basketball came to an abrupt halt Saturday after he injured his ankle early in the game.
Ingram’s versatility and ability to be a scorer and a distributor for the offense is invaluable, and the Lakers don’t really have someone ready to replace that workload.
While the team is calling the ankle sprain “mild,” there’s really no such thing. Sprains can take time to heal, and the Lakers could be without one of their best players for the near future.
Rookie class keeps shining
Before the game Saturday, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle compared this year’s crop of rookies to the 1984 NBA Draft class – a group that included Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.
While Carlisle said this year’s rookies have a ways to go to reach that level of success, the talent is there.
Saturday, three of those rookies played really well. Lonzo Ball flirted with a triple-double without turning the ball over in 43 minutes. Kyle Kuzma got back on track after a multi-week slump. And Dallas rookie guard, Dennis Smith Jr., flashed the athleticism and tenacity that has people so high on him.
Clarkson shows his value
If the Lakers are serious about shopping players like Jordan Clarkson, the fourth quarter and overtime are minutes the team might want to show potential suitors.
Clarkson scored 13 of his 19 and dished out three of his four assists in the clutch, using a mix of quickness and shot-making to carry the Laker offense down the stretch.
With his minutes down since the start of 2018, Clarkson’s floundered some, scoring only nine points in the Lakers’ previous two games. But Saturday, he was the most aggressive player on the court late, showing how valuable he can be in big moments.