After the unexpected start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have slowly returned to reality. As a rebuilding unit, each game comes with lessons and improvements to make moving forward. With head coach Luke Walton, players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle have made strides towards the players they hope to become.
The Lakers’ Tuesday contest against the Memphis Grizzlies was a prime example of learning from your mistakes. The first time these two teams met, the Grizzlies ultimately came out on top with a 103-100 win.
Upon the conclusion of the game, Walton understood that the road game was a winnable one that the team let slip away. Alas, that is all a part of the process when it comes to building a contender, as Russell and Randle continue to gain experience in crucial games.
When these two teams met again on Tuesday, the Lakers came out ready to play, built a solid lead and maintained it for their 13th win of the season. During the contest, Randle messed around and got a triple-double, with 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Russell was asked about Randle’s performance and stated that he thinks the Kentucky alumnus is a pass-first type of player, who feeds off of his teammates, via Serena Winters of LakersNation.com:
D’Angelo on Randle: "I honestly think he’s a pass-first type guy…. when we’re making shots it makes him anxious to keep getting us the ball"
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) January 4, 2017
This all came during a night in which Randle was a promotion, as Staples Center handed out large posters of Randle’s head, which undoubtedly added fuel to his fire.
With the entire Staples Center cheering him on, Randle’s play making ability took an impressive step forward. Since the beginning of the season, Walton has raved about Randle’s ability to handle the ball and how his athleticism allows him to exploit defenses.
While Lakers fans are used to seeing Randle drive hard to the rim, he kept his head up and was able to find teammates through multiple rotations. The Lakers were able to put up 32 assists on 42 shots made, with premium ball movement and an attention to detail on the offensive end.
During their 13th win of the season, the Lakers seemed to be constantly in motion, moving around the court to create more opportunities for their teammates. During this careless approach, Randle was able to contribute in multiple areas of the game, while guiding the team to a win.
Lakers fans, Walton and the entire roster hope that Tuesday’s game was yet another example of what the rebuilding franchise can mold into.