The start of the season has been an interesting one for Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle, as for really the first time in his career he was asked to come off the bench.
He didn’t respond well at first as he was frustrated with what he viewed as a demotion.
But he broke out in the Lakers third game of the season, as Luke Walton called his performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday his best game of the season.
Randle built off that performance Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards, as although he didn’t contribute much in the first three quarters, he came up big in the fourth quarter and overtime of the 102-99 win.
After the game Walton commented on Randle’s performance, saying the Lakers wouldn’t have won without him, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke Walton on Julius Randle: 'We don't win that game without him.'
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 26, 2017
Randle had a crucial block on John Wall late in the game in addition to some other nice defensive plays, which impressed Walton, via Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell:
Walton was impressed with how Randle finished the game especially defensively, and especially because he barely played until that point.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 26, 2017
Randle finished the game with 11 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench, although most of his contributions came by hustling on the defensive end. He did hit a rare three-pointer when the Lakers were trailing late in the fourth quarter though, which helped send the game to overtime before he had the game sealing dunk in the extra period.
It seems that Randle is finally embracing his role off the bench, which will bode well for the Lakers moving forward if he can continue to bring that energy night in and night out.