Lakers rely on Randle, Russell to hold off Nets
Lakers Jordan Clarkson gets a finger to the nose by Nets Joe Harris, right, as Justin Hamilton tries to help on defense in the 4th quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers Timofey Mozgov tries to defend Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris on a pass play during the second quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers’ Julius Randle gets a hand to the face from Brooklyn Nets’ Brook Lopez while driving to the basket in the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson is fouled by Brookyln Nets’ Yogi Ferrell while making a basket in the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers’ Timofey Mozgov dunks over Brooklyn Nets’ Brook Lopez, left, and Justin Hamilton in the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell drives past Brooklyn Nets’ Brook Lopez, left, and Randy Foye.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers’ Timofey Mozgov dunks over Brookyln Nets’ Brook Lopez in the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers’ Timofey Mozgov battles for a rebound with Brooklyn Nets’ Brook Lopez and Trevor Booker (35) in the second quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Brookyln Nets’ Sean Kilpatrick gets a pass off in front of Lakers’ Nick Young in the second quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers D"Angelo Russell walks on to the court before a game with the Nets.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Lakers’ future shined on Tuesday night in a flawed 125-118 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Julius Randle finished with his second career triple-double that featured 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, tying a career high in assists. D’Angelo Russell finished with 32 points and eight rebounds, seven of them defensive. Each provided glimpses of the kind of threat they might pose as the Lakers try to grow into their future.
The Lakers needed every bit of their superlative statistical performances as they topped a Nets team playing for the second straight night.
The Lakers improved to 7-5, dropping the Nets to 4-7.
Center Timofey Mozgov had 20 points and six rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson added 13 points and Tarik Black had 12 with nine rebounds in 13:26 of playing time. Black received an ovation from the crowd as he left the game midway through the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t feel like we got in a great flow tonight,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “Obviously, we’ll take a win and Brooklyn’s a great team. They never stop coming at you. But it didn’t feel like the way we’ve been playing as far as sharing the ball and having fun and making the extra pass. Just felt a little off tonight.”
The Nets were on the second night of a Staples Center back-to-back. They lost to the Clippers on Monday night, 127-95.
The Lakers returned home after a three-game trip that included wins in Sacramento and New Orleans, and a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves the day after the Lakers played the Pelicans.
Unlike other contests, the Lakers started well. Russell had a hand in all of the Lakers’ first 16 points — he scored 12 and had assists on the other two baskets. Russell made five consecutive three-pointers during the first quarter before his first missed shot, which was his sixth attempted three.
“He was really good early on,” Walton said of Russell. “He was active on defense, which is what I was most impressed and happy with. It feels like every time he has one of these big games, he starts the game making plays for us on the defensive end.”
But the Lakers’ vaunted second unit, which often provides an energy and scoring boost in games, struggled.
In the first quarter every member of the Lakers bench had a plus/minus rating below zero. Conversely, every starter had a positive plus/minus rating.
The trend lasted through halftime, when guard Jordan Clarkson creeped up to a positive-two rating.
Randle finished with a plus-minus of 15, but even his performance left Walton wanting more from him.
“As good as he played tonight, there’s probably nine, 10, 11, 12 times where he didn’t get himself involved in the play,” Walton said. “Whether it was not getting all the way back on defense, not plugging the paint on the help side drive.”
Randle’s output fit a trend of a very productive November, as he’s growing into the type of player the Lakers wanted when they drafted him seventh overall in 2014.
This month Randle has had double-doubles against the Warriors (20 points, 14 rebounds) and the Mavericks (15 points, 10 rebounds). He’s had at least 10 rebounds five times and at least 10 points six times.
“He’s continuing to get better in really realizing what he’s capable of doing,” Walton said.
The belief goes both ways for Randle.
“It comes from work ethic,” he said. “Every day grinding out. Just trying to get better every day. … Also comes from coach’s belief in me to make plays and be a playmaker. Whatever it is, they trust me out there to be involved in a lot of what we’re doing. When you have the belief of coach, obviously it’s going to make your confidence go up.”
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