It was almost 1 a.m. earlier this month, a few hours after another Lakers loss. It wasn’t sitting well with Julius Randle.
He didn’t like the way he played against the Denver Nuggets, so he called Metta World Peace and asked the veteran to join him for an impromptu workout at the Lakers’ training facility.
World Peace was just finishing a late sushi dinner and agreed to meet with Randle, the education continuing for the second-year power forward who cared about getting better the right way. By working hard.
“He’s one of those guys that I think takes it pretty serious,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Sunday. “He’s not a guy that I think parties and all that stuff. He’s a pretty mild-mannered type guy. He comes into the gym, gets his work in, stays a little later. I don’t worry about him as far as that’s concerned.”
Randle continues to have good games and then not-so-good ones.
It’s entertaining to watch his hard-charging efforts when he turns a defensive rebound into a fastbreak opportunity. He’s fearless as well, in case his nose-to-nose with Kevin Garnett didn’t prove the point earlier this season.
But he’s over-reliant on his left hand and still hasn’t developed a consistent midrange shot. He made only five of 14 attempts from eight to 16 feet before Sunday’s game. He was seven for 26 beyond 16 feet.
Scott wants something else from him too.
“One thing that I’ve been talking with him about is just playing harder for long periods of time — trying to carry it out there for the whole time he’s out there and not taking plays off,” Scott said. “The one gift that he has, besides being able to get to the basket, is his quickness and he’s got to use that to his full potential.”
It’s something Randle accepts. It drove him to make that call to World Peace a few weeks ago.
“It was one of those nights where I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep and needed somebody to talk to,” Randle said. “I just needed to clear my head. We shot a little bit, worked on stuff, talked a lot that night. Just a little bit of everything.
“It was late but I don’t sleep a lot anyway. I was just upset.”
Randle, who turns 21 next week, had an off night Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
He couldn’t seem to finish plays, missing several tipins and some short runners as well. He took 13 rebounds, a good total in his 14th career game, but his 13 points came on five-for-15 shooting.
He had one particularly bad run in the Lakers’ 107-93 loss.
Portland center Mason Plumlee patiently waited for Randle to spin in the lane and then annihilated his left-handed attempt. On the next possession, Randle tried unsuccessfully to pump-fake Maurice Harkless into the air and was forced to shoot an off-balance jumper in the lane. It was an airball.
“It’s hard,” Randle said. “The encouraging thing is we know we can get a lot better. Just got to figure it out.”
Larry Nance Jr. has donated plenty of energy in some good on-court bursts the last two weeks.
On Sunday, however, he did not play. He had gone scoreless in the Lakers’ previous two games, missing all five of his shots.
Nobody was at Nance’s locker to interview him after Sunday’s loss.
“Good interview, guys,” he said to himself, trying to make light of the situation.
Nance is averaging 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in almost 18 minutes.