Even with Julius Randle playing solid basketball to help keep the team afloat, the Los Angeles Lakers really appeared to miss rookie point guard Lonzo Ball while he was sidelined several weeks with a knee injury he sustained in January against the Dallas Mavericks.
Against those very same Mavericks, Ball showed why as the Lakers built a 19-point first quarter lead and never looked back, beating the Dallas, 124-102, to snap a three-game losing streak in their first contest following the All-Star break.
Ball’s return was the big story, but Randle led the way for the Lakers, messing around and getting his fifth career triple-double. He stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as he rampaged all over his hometown Mavericks.
Randle was grabbing the ball, running fast breaks to find teammates, and the fourth-year forward seemed to have an answer for every Mavericks run, pulling down rebounds to end possessions and crammed drove down Dallas’ collective throat to get easy buckets in the paint on the other end.
Ball wasn’t too shabby himself, however, coming off of the bench for nine points, seven rebounds and six assists of his own as he did his best to flirt with a triple-double while keying the Lakers’ renewed transition attack with his patented outlet passing and pace-setting on the break.
Randle’s and Ball’s passing keyed a team effort for the recently-slumping Lakers, who pinged the rock around the floor to the tune of 32 assists to the Mavericks’ 25. It led to plenty of highlights for the Lakers and a solid start to their critical post-All-Star break stretch heading into a huge free agency period this summer.
If Randle and Ball keep playing like they did Friday, it will make reaching those goals a lot easier. But it will be paused in some regard, as Ball will not play Saturday against the Sacramento Kings.
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