Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 107-104 win over the 76ers
Often when NBA players face their friends, the drive to win intensifies.
That might have been one of Julius Randle’s motivations Thursday night against Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid.
Randle hated the way he played against Embiid the first time the Lakers faced the 76ers. His defense was part of the reason Embiid scored a career-high 46 points in that game.
“I just think I made it a little too easy for him,” Randle said. “Sent him to the free throw line. Let him get to the paint. His catches really easy. I didn’t feel like I made it tough. Today, I just tried to make it tougher.”
You saw it in the way Randle harassed Embiid defensively late in the game, in the way he exploited Embiid’s foul trouble on offense. Embiid scored 33 points, but the Lakers won this time.
And when the game ended, Randle, always stone-faced after losses, could laugh a little.
“He’s the funniest dude ever,” Randle said. “He’s hilarious. … We were in the same class in high school. Same draft class. Me and Jo Jo are cool.”
Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 107-104 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
1. Lakers coach Luke Walton has developed a pretty dependable motivational system for Randle: He sits him. Walton removed Randle from the game with 6:06 remaining and the Lakers leading by five. He returned with 4:26 left in the game. “I pulled him out,” Walton said, when asked how he prepared Randle for the challenge of facing Embiid. “Every time I pull him out he gets [angry]. I pulled him out for a quick minute, put him back in and he uses that anger. He used that anger pretty well. I just hope he never catches on to it.” (Hopefully he doesn’t read these five takeaways.)
2. One player who likely didn’t appreciate that tactic was Brook Lopez. Lopez was who Walton used to replace Randle. He played only 1:40 in the entire fourth quarter and 19:38 overall. Lopez has struggled to adjust his low minutes with the Lakers.
3. The Lakers’ turnover problem took a one-game hiatus. During their five-game losing streak, the Lakers averaged more than 18 turnovers per game. Heading into Thursday’s game, they led the league in turnovers. On Thursday, they committed only 12 turnovers. “We did a hell of job not turning the ball over,” Walton said. “I think we only had three turnovers in the second half and one in a quarter. Our guys were really locked in on that.” He was close. They had five turnovers in the second half and only one in the first quarter.
4. Free throws are still a problem. When Walton came out for his post-game interview, Brandon Ingram was just finishing up a headset interview with a television station. “If you would have made your free throws, we wouldn’t have needed that three-point shot,” Walton said. Ingram laughed because it was a nitpick in an otherwise solid game. But Walton was right. Ingram missed five of the 10 free throws he shot. The Lakers as a group shot 50% from the free-throw line, missing 12 of 24.
5. Jordan Clarkson might have been happier than anyone at Ingram’s big game and watching his game-winning shot. “Big for him. He put in a lot of work this summer, so it’s good to see it come together,” Clarkson said. “That’s my dog growing up right in front of my arms. That’s my young boy right there.” On Ingram taking that shot, Clarkson said, “That … was wide open. If he didn’t shoot it, I would probably have slapped them dreads off his head.” Then later he tweeted: “Its TINY town NOW,” a reference to Ingram’s nickname, “Tiny Dog.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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