Lakers learn some things but haven’t looked impressive at summer league
With the score tied and 38 seconds left, the Lakers got the stop they needed Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks in a summer league game.
Then rookie guard D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ second overall pick in June’s NBA draft, tried to split a double team but lost his handle for another turnover.
The Mavericks scored on the next possession. Second-year Lakers forward Julius Randle took a last gasp three-point attempt that not only missed but came after the final buzzer had sounded.
Dallas’ 88-86 win dropped the Lakers to 1-3 in summer league play.
Despite the last shot, Randle gave his best performance of the summer, scoring 17 points while using his intriguing combination of strength and quickness off the dribble to attack the basket.
The Lakers have been extremely conservative with Randle’s playing time after he broke his right leg in the first game of the 2014-15 season and missing the whole year. In addition to surgery on his leg, Randle underwent an additional procedure to replace a screw in his right foot to treat an injury from high school.
Now the team is restricting him to five-minute stretches with a 20-minute game limit.
“It’s killing me man, but I have to keep it all in perspective,” said Randle, who is averaging 11.7 points and 3.7 rebounds a game this summer, while shooting 39.3% from the field.
The Lakers have not looked impressive, which is a concern given that the summer squad features seven players expected to be on the team’s roster on opening night in October.
Russell may prove to be a foundational point guard for the Lakers, but in Las Vegas he’s struggled, shooting just 31.7% from the field while turning the ball over 5.8 times a game, while averaging 3.8 assists.
“It’s just about making shots. It hasn’t been my night,” said Russell, who shot 44.9% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range as a freshman at Ohio State. “When we lose, it’s not like we let ourselves or the team down, we let the whole Lakers nation down.... We’ve got to get it done.”
Forward Tarik Black leads the team with a 63.2% field-goal percentage, but also 6.3 fouls a game — the standard limit of six doesn’t apply throughout summer league.
The summer standouts have been second-year guards Jabari Brown (19.5 points a game) and Jordan Clarkson (18.0). Both have non-guaranteed contracts for the coming season, but Clarkson is a lock after earning a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie team. Brown is making a strong case he too belongs on the team this season.
Rookie forward Larry Nance Jr., taken 27th overall by the Lakers, and guard/forward Anthony Brown (34th) have both shown flashes of promise. Nance needs to improve his jump shot, but his energy in the team’s lone win of the summer against the Philadelphia 76ers quickly made him a fan favorite with the pro-Lakers crowd.
The Lakers’ summer squad has one game left, on Friday at Cox Pavilion against the Utah Jazz at 3 p.m. PDT.
Pincus is a Times correspondent.
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