Lakers’ Julius Randle ‘is getting a lot of things right’
Julius Randle protected and corralled the ball by dribbling behind his back, looked to his right and flipped a left-handed pass to Kobe Bryant, who swished a three-pointer.
The inspired play Thursday iced Randle’s second impressive exhibition game as he returns from a rookie season scrapped by a fractured right leg.
Randle scored 17 points with five rebounds and three assists in the Lakers’ return game from Hawaii, a 105-97 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Ontario, Calif.
“Making easy, simple plays, trusting everything I worked on in the summer. I was just staying confident,” Randle said.
The forward committed three fouls in the first 5 minutes 43 seconds, then surged back to score 11 second-quarter points in 7:17 of playing time, an impressive follow-up to his 16-point performance Tuesday against the Utah Jazz in Hawaii.
Randle connected on two turnaround jumpers and also drove to the basket impressively in the second.
“I just had to keep my hands up,” Randle said. “Second quarter, I was more in control of my drives and my defense. I tried to stay solid.”
Lakers Coach Byron Scott said he’s “very happy” with the way Randle is playing and competing.
“He’s getting a lot of things right on both ends of the floor,” Scott said. “He’s a worker. He has a lot of ability to do a lot of different things on the basketball court and we’re starting to see those things.”
The 37-year-old played forward with rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell sidelined and scored 16 points in 21:33, exiting late in the third quarter.
Bryant canned a three-pointer and drove to a layup in the third.
“Very happy with the way he’s looking,” said Scott, who added he expects Bryant’s game time to increase through the preseason.
Bryant said of his contributions: “It’s coming.”
Rookie center Robert Upshaw made his exhibition debut and flashed potential with a first-quarter dunk and 16-foot turnaround fade away before the youthful lapses of a turnover and goaltending violation.
Scott inserted Upshaw after the 7-footer blocked several shots at practices in Hawaii. Playing time against the likes of Toronto’s Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas could sharpen the focus of the raw Upshaw, who didn’t finish a dunk chance late in the third, then missed both free throws.
He had six points, three rebounds and two blocked shots in 25 minutes.
“Felt great to be out there,” Upshaw said. “It’s super exciting. I just need to be an anchor on the defense, [work] on the pick and roll, keep up the intensity, set harder screens, be on the ball.”
Sitting it out
Scott opted to keep Russell out of the game following the bruised glute he suffered in a spill Tuesday in Hawaii.
Scott said the move was purely precautionary with five exhibition games remaining.
Scott said he was hopeful Russell could return for Sunday’s exhibition against Maccabi Haifa at Staples Center.
Veteran reserve forward Brandon Bass was also kept out after an MRI exam and CT scan on his left knee revealed a bruise suffered Tuesday. The Lakers announced Bass will be evaluated “daily moving forward.”
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire
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