Julius Randle had one of his best games of the season to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap a three-game losing streak and beat the Dallas Mavericks, 124-102, while getting his fifth career triple-double in the process.
Randle finished the night against the Mavericks with team highs in points (18), rebounds (13) and assists (10), but it wasn’t a byproduct of stat-hunting. “I just tried to play the game the right way and just make simple plays,” Randle said.
“Teams are doubling me. They’re not really playing me one-on-one in the post. My job is to evaluate the defense (and) if I have an advantage to go score, then I do it. If not, draw the double-team and make a play for my teammates.”
Randle’s mindset was contagious for the Lakers against the Mavericks, as the team finished with 32 assists and their seventh-highest percentage of assisted baskets of the season (66.7 percent).
The fourth-year forward set that tone not just by pushing the pace in transition, but by relentlessly attacking the rim with dribble-drives, as demonstrated by all of Randle’s field-goal attempts coming from inside the paint against the Mavericks.
But Randle has been driving to the bucket non-stop almost all season. What impressed Lakers head coach Luke Walton most on Friday was how Randle was doing so for more reasons than just finding his own shot.
“He’s been getting much better at letting the game slow down to him. We’ve been working on him playing at a better pace once he gets into attack mode,” Walton explained.
That work resulted in a season-high in assists for Randle against his hometown team, although despite his consistent success against the Mavericks, Randle insisted that he doesn’t play any differently against the squad he grew up watching.
“I just try to play the same way every night,” he said.
That way now involves trying to set up his teammates, although Randle acknowledged that even if he wasn’t exactly gunning for a triple-double, he might have been a bit more freewheeling in his passing while sitting two assists away from a triple-double.
“I threw to Kuzma, a dime, and he thought he was Dr. J and tried to go on the other side. It didn’t work out,” Randle said with a laugh, although he added he wasn’t upset because Kuzma later made a three to put Randle one assist away from his eventual triple-double.
“He made up for it,” Randle said. “So it’s cool.”
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