Lakers’ Julius Randle joins select group
Julius Randle is among elite company.
On Wednesday, a day after Randle notched the third triple-double of his career and his second this season, Coach Luke Walton said he expected the Lakers forward to perform at a high level, but acknowledged how difficult it was to record a triple-double.
“A lot has to go right for you,” Walton said. “Guys need to make shots, your own shot needs to go in, I think the rebounding thing — he should always be right around that.”
Randle became the sixth player this season to record multiple triple-doubles, joining point guards Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City and James Harden of Houston, and forwards LeBron James of Cleveland, Draymond Green of Golden State and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.
Randle had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the Lakers’ 116-102 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday.
“We know that he is capable of doing that at a high level almost every night,” point guard D’Angelo Russell said, “but it is just up to him.”
The Lakers sent Randle’s game-worn shorts and jersey to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which requested the items because Randle was the first player to record a triple-double against the Grizzlies in 192 consecutive games.
Randle’s performance came soon after Walton got after him at practice about playing hard on every possession.
“If he plays with the alertness and the focus that he did the last game, he’s going to fill up the stat sheet most nights,” Walton said.
Randle’s last triple-double was in November in a victory over the New Jersey Nets. He had 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.
Tuesday’s victory was just the Lakers’ third since the beginning of December.
Walton said the team has made “nice strides” on offense but progress has lacked on defense and the team wasn’t where he expected it to be mentally.
“Our overall mindfulness, alertness, I think we are a little bit behind where I thought we’d be or I’d like to be,” Walton said. “It’s up and down.”
The Lakers started the season 10-10 before they suffered a string of injuries and lost 15 of their last 18 games.
December provided a reality check. The Lakers ranked 27th in field-goal percentage, committed the second-most turnovers and had the second-worst defensive rating in the league.
“I feel like losing helped us realize that we’re not that good yet and what we need to focus on,” Russell said. “It’s not big problem, but the little things is what’s causing us not to finish games.”
Fan hits three
Walton was drawing a play before the start of the fourth quarter Tuesday when the team was overcome with excitement. The first-year coach sensed that their enthusiasm wasn’t because of the play-call.
Jerald Acoba of Tulare had just made a half-court shot to win $95,000.
“I see our whole team start going crazy and I’m like ‘Let’s pay attention to the white board right here,’ ” Walton said.
Russell was among players focused on the shot contest.
It has become routine for Russell and guard Marcelo Huertas to judge whether a contestant could make the half-court basket before it was shot, Russell said.
Huertas thought Acoba had a chance, Russell did not, he said.
Walton did not see the shot until he watched a highlight show after the game. He chuckled about the situation and said he was “very happy” for Acoba, who announced that he would buy his mom a car with the prize money.
Forward Luol Deng is questionable to play Thursday because of right biceps tendinitis. “He’s getting treated today and hopefully he’ll be good to go,” Walton said. … General Manager Mitch Kupchak watched center Ivica Zubac in a postpractice workout. Zubac will play Thursday with the Defenders and rejoin the Lakers on Friday.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Moda Center.
On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes, TNT; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 13-25, Trail Blazers 15-22.
Record vs. Trail Blazers (2015-16): 0-3.
Update: Nine of Potland’s 15 victories have come at home. “They have skill players that play when you play at home they are that much harder to stop,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said.
— Tania Ganguli
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