Julius Randle has had bad games. Lakers fans are aware of it.
There was the time the Lakers were 38 points worse than the Utah Jazz in the 23 minutes or so Randle was on the court. There was the one where he fouled out and missed 10 shots in the same game. There was another game in which he had six turnovers in 20 minutes.
Even at his worst, the ball always made its way into the basket at least once. But against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, he didn’t score.
It had never happened to Randle in nearly 200 professional games. It didn’t happen to him at the University of Kentucky. And Randle said it didn’t happen when he was a high school All-American in Plano, Texas.
“It was weird,” he said.
Randle scored 23 points, including baskets in the game’s crucial moments, and grabbed 15 rebounds, helping lead the Lakers to a 107-101 overtime victory over the host Dallas Mavericks on Saturday afternoon.
It was the Lakers’ fourth consecutive victory and their first against Dallas in 14 tries.
“He was tremendous,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “I know he’s a local kid. It’s the best I’ve seen him play in person. He’s had some OK games against us. But never one like this.”
The Lakers immediately went to Randle, and he scored on a hook shot over Harrison Barnes on the game’s first possession. He made his first four shots, helping the Lakers lead by as many as 11 points in the first quarter.
“I just had to get back to being aggressive,” Randle said. “Last game I wasn’t assertive and we won, but in order for us to get a win on the road I felt like I had to play well. Just tried to get aggressive and get back to it.”
But a lot like Randle’s tenure with the Lakers, Saturday’s performance from the fourth-year forward and his teammates was uneven.
To go with his ninth double-double of the season, Randle committed a career-high seven turnovers. And, had the Lakers not performed in overtime, a lot of attention would’ve been paid to the final play of regulation, when the Lakers called a play for Randle to try to win the game. Randle fumbled the ball and didn’t get a shot off, with Lonzo Ball scooping up the basketball to save him from another turnover.
The Lakers went to Randle, coach Luke Walton said, because he had earned that opportunity with how well he bullied Dallas’ defense earlier in the game.
And even though he failed at the end of regulation, Randle iced the game in overtime, rebounding a missed Ball layup and scoring just before the shot clock expired.
“When he’s going like that, he’ll make those game-winning-type plays,” Walton said.
Brandon Ingram was able to play only 14 minutes after spraining an ankle, leaving Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to pick up the offensive load.
Clarkson scored 19 points, 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Kuzma bounced back from a multi-week slump to finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Caldwell-Pope, playing in his first road game outside of California in a month, scored 17 points.
The Lakers’ early lead disappeared in the second half and Dallas led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter before the Lakers came back to take a lead. But they couldn’t keep the Mavericks from forcing overtime, with Barnes blowing past Kuzma for the tying basket.
“I told them going into overtime, ‘Alright, it’s time to regroup now,’ Walton said.
Clarkson had a different motivation.
“We just didn’t want to lose,” Clarkson said. “They whooped [us] last year, and this is my first time winning here. We just wanted to get that win.”