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Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 139-100 loss to the Houston Rockets

Patrick Beverley, D’Angelo Russell
The Rockets’ Patrick Beverley knocks the ball away from the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell during a March 15 game in Houston.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

The Lakers’ season-opening win over the Houston Rockets is but a distant memory.

More clearly, they recall consecutive 39-point losses in Houston. Lakers Coach Luke Walton offered a familiar refrain after this one.

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 139-100 loss to the Rockets.

1. Walton is getting tired of this. So often he has to talk about why the Lakers aren’t responding well to adversity, and how upset it made him that they weren’t putting in the effort he wanted to see. “I know it’s a long process, but the things I’m getting tired of talking about are the things we can control,” Walton said. “That’s how hard we fight, ... how much effort we give. Do we get back on transition defense all game long? Things that are in anybody’s control whether you’re in junior high, high school, college, NBA, you can control those things. Those are the things I’m getting tired of talking about.”

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2. Julius Randle had a really nice night offensively with a career-high 32 points. “I just have to stay aggressive,” Randle said. “I never really wasn’t that aggressive for whatever reason. I just tried to stay aggressive and locked in the whole game. Fourth quarter was garbage. I blame myself for that.”

3. Walton also liked Randle’s game offensively, but wanted more from him on defense. “Defensively, I told him he needs to be better than that,” Walton said. “He needs to. He’s too good of an athlete and too good of a basketball player to make some of the mistakes he makes, whether it’s closing out on a shooter with his hands down and things like that.”

4. D’Angelo Russell had a lot of turnovers in part due to some risk-taking with his passes. He’s supposed to be aggressive in looking for teammates. “I’m not going to tell him not to look for that stuff,” Walton said. “But ... especially on the road against a team that is built the way they’re built to get out and run and space you with threes, turnovers just kill you. We can’t afford to have those.”

Russell acknowledged that he is still amid the learning process. “A lot of times I can be more aggressive and score instead of trying to pass,” Russell said. “When that happens, we get turnovers. Still figuring it out.”

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5. Russell is an incredibly polarizing figure. The responses on Twitter to anything he says or anything Walton says about him fall into two camps. Camp 1 believes that Walton is doing Russell a serious disservice by benching him and affecting his confidence. Camp 2 believes that Russell deserved to be benched and is reacting poorly, thus proving he deserved it. Nothing will persuade either camp to move into the other. One thing to keep in mind is that Walton has never said he benched Russell due to performance. That doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t, but he keeps insisting that this is all about evaluating Jordan Clarkson as a point guard. That seems to also be the message Russell has received behind closed doors.

tania.ganguli@latimes.com

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


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