The “Make the Lakers fun again” movement was in full swing during the Lakers win. The Lakers were reeling off a bad start to January with a loss by the Raptors. Even though they lost the game, it was impressive how they were able to stay in the game. Russell also found his stroke late in that game and the hope was that it would carry over, boy did it.
This has to be the most impressive game for the Lakers to win this year. The Warriors win was cool, but there were a lot of variables in that game that effected the Warriors. The Grizzlies were all healthy and ready to roll after resting the last game.
To say that the Lakers were on fire would be a massive understatement. The Lakers assisted on 34 of 43 field goal attempts. That’s a Warriors-type stat line which should be the goal for the Lakers. Russell and Swaggy P were on fire from the 2nd quarter and the whole team caught fire after that. Young made his case for Most Improved Player stronger and Russell is finally playing at a level of basketball that is turning heads.
Hidden underneath this rainstorm of 3’s is Julius Randle’s triple double.
Luke did something amazing with Julius Randle this year that has allows him to become a really good player. He gave him the Draymond role. It has created a really good player that has made me recalibrate my expectation for him.
Julius is doing it all for the Lakers: scoring, rebounding, and playmaking. He has an impact on at least one of those very game. His finishing has been much better than last year and he is setting good screens to let the point guard make the right read. His rebounding continues to be at an elite level and it has helped then transition offense as he often grabs and go’s.
The big factor in his improved play apart from the new offensive system is the improved play of D’Angelo Russell. Russell is making every one of his teammates better this year and the Randle-Russell duo has been the Lakers 2 best players. Out of all the 2-man combinations for the Lakers, Russell and Randle lead in Offensive Rating and Assist Ratio. This should come to no-ones surprise as the 2 have great chemistry on the court and have been a lightning rod for the Lakers on offense.
Randle has been the one that has surprised the most out of any young Lakers this year. His future may be as an All-Star power forward and one of the best big men in the game. He has shown that kind of play this year and it is all about maintaining consistency.
Now let’s get to this film room before Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell burn my house down with 3’s.
Randle has been a good finisher all year, but here he missed a shot that seems pretty routine. He does a great job of being patient to get the opening to make the shot, but can’t actually convert it. His high rebounding motor is on all effect here as he sticks with the play to lay it back in. Way to pad those stats early on Julius!
In an attempt to create better looks for himself, Russell has developed a habit of reseting the ball back to the big man to create some more space between his defender and himself. The defender here ball watches for too long and Randle gives Russell a nice pass to set up the shot. When D’Angelo has his shot, he can create many assist opportunities for Randle by just getting the ball.
The Nick Young hand-off thing has worked very well for Randle. It gives Nick a good look from 3 where all he has to do is catch and shoot. It eliminates the “Swaggy-Pness” that comes with Young that only leaves the shooter. One dribble is all that Nick needs to get the shot off thanks to Randle shielding off his man. It Amy not seem like much, but it is a great play to run for shooters.
There goes that improved ability to finish that Randle has been working on. He takes contact much better then he did last year and that has allowed him to finish much better. A defender can get overwhelmed by Randle’s strength and that was the case here. He decided to just put a hand up instead of deal with Julius’ physicality.
Few big men can get up the floor like Randle can and here is a prime example of him running it hard. He stays stride for stride with Lou Williams and catches a lob to lay it in. The speed Randle posses is what truly makes him such a unique player.
Having good shooters around a big like Randle is what brings the best out of him. A lot of his assist come on pass outs or hand offs. The rebounds and playmaking shine through as he gets the offensive board and then kicks it out to a much more confident D’Angelo for the 3. His shooters playing better really helped his playmaking. This is a shot that Russell doesn’t make or take a week ago, but that confidence in his shot has really improved his play.
Randle does a good job of pushing the ball up the court to try and create some easy offense while the defense isn’t set. He has really tried to grab and go much more often and it has results in some good looks on offense. He quickly realizes that there is nothing for him to do in front so he pivots around looking for a pass and finds the open Nick Young. Great patience and control.
What a great pass by Russell to set up Randle with a clear lane to the rim. Julius was trailing from the last play and Randle was able to gain separation from his defender to get to the lead pass and slam it down. This Russell to Randle connection is the real deal.
A surprising isolation shows us how effective Randle can be in the post. A quick move like that can leave many defenders in the dust. This is a truly great adjustment to finish by Randle to finish inside and avoid the block.
Good rebound by Randle who hit the glass hard all night. Russell was the hot hand so he gave him the ball to take up the court. This is a really smart play by Randle as he notices that he has the much slower Zach Randolph who he can beat easily and then he runs right pass him. This pass from D’Angelo cannot be described using words.
Another Nick Young handoff. Much of the credit should go to Nick for making the shots, but Randle certainly made the shots easier. As it is seen on this play.
Really good read by Randle to have some patience on the play before he decided to put his head down and attack. Moz finds a little gap and hits a mid-range shot that has managed to somehow become consistent this year for him. Randle has some really good vision for a player his size.
Another impressive grab and go for Randle that features a great read. He notices both defenders are collapsing on him and he then passes it out to Mozgov. Simple reads are like these are really impressive and have become the norm to such an extent that they go unnoticed at times.
It may not be the hard screen and roll that is usually used, but this pick allows for Randle to get a head start on his dive to the rim. Russell makes a nice pass to set him up for a clean look at the rim. Look at what Russell can get out of a player that can handle his passes.
There is little to say about this duo other than it is very productive and efficient. The connection is obvious and Randle is a really good finisher as a byproduct of this chemistry. Russell sets him up nicely and Randle attacks really fast.
Great gamble here by Julius to notice the lazy pass made to Marc Gasol. His speed and quick reaction on this play make it all possible. An easy interception here leads to an easy slam on the other end. All the Lakers were having fun and dancing. This team was fun tonight. Randle and Russell leading the way.