In the first game of their four-game road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers came up short against the Boston Celtics. Trailing by 21 early, the Lakers fought back and gave themselves a chance to win, but were unable to get over the hump.
One early move that raised eyebrows was head coach Luke Walton’s decision to play Andrew Bogut as the first big man off the bench in the first quarter over Julius Randle. It is Randle who has been a huge part of the Lakers’ bench unit success and Bogut hadn’t even been active the last couple of games so the move came as a surprise.
Randle didn’t play the entire first quarter, but made up for it the rest of the night, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds in only 21 minutes. After the game Walton spoke about his reasoning for turning to Bogut early on according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We needed some toughness out there and Bogut is a big, tough man and to me, offensively, we were playing a little selfish and defensively, we were getting big-boyed on the court and Bogut is a brilliant passer, an unselfish player and he’s tough, so we went there to try to slowly turn the tide of how the game was going and I thought he did a good job.”
Bogut finished with three rebounds and a block in six minutes. He had two turnovers, but those were due to his teammates not looking for the ball when they were open.
Walton’s reasoning is sound, especially defensively as Aron Baynes dominated the Lakers on the glass and Bogut is a physical presence who could theoretically deter him. Nonetheless, not playing Randle, who has been outstanding recently, for the entire first quarter shouldn’t happen.
In fairness to Randle, he responded well, didn’t hang his head, and was a huge reason the Lakers climbed back into the game. He continues to be one of the Lakers’ best players so far this year and this game was proof of his growth.
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