Lakers vs. Jazz preseason recap: Randle shines, Russell leaves due to injury

The Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz 117-114 in overtime in the second preseason game, but who really cares about the score?

Some more important things happened and here are some brief thoughts on those more important things:

Injuries suck: D’Angelo Russell got hammered while trying to contest a shot in the paint and fell straight on his back. He was down and barely moving for a few minutes, and naturally with how injury-things have gone with the Lakers recently, fans everywhere collectively held their breath. Fortunately, it was not serious. Russell has a bruised glute, and could have returned, so it appears as if the Lakers dodged a major bullet.

Later in the game, Brandon Bass fell and hit his knee on a camera and was down for a minute or two as well, but he walked off on his own power and eventually returned to the game. Normally, I’m a “Byron’s practices influence injuries” type of guy, but these were kind of freakish events, so I won’t blame him this time.

Ultimate teammate: Trevor Booker got into it with Julius Randle after Randle fouled him, and Roy Hibbert came over as a peacemaker. Booker threw a punch at Roy, and was ejected. Hibbert was slapped with a technical, but more importantly, he stood up for his teammate. Remember a couple years ago when no one helped Nick Young when he took on a handful of Suns players? Yeah, well, this team seems to actually care for one another.

Hibbert, by the way, played a very solid game. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and of course, contested and altered a good number of shots. He’s been sort of a “dirty work” type of player so far. He’s hustling for loose balls, getting up and down the court, keeping offensive rebounds alive, and contested attempt after attempt at the rim. The Lakers have a difficult time of preventing penetration, and without Hibbert, the defense would be a turnstile. He gives the team a legitimate shot to be decent on defense, which is a major upgrade from last season’s atrocity.

Vintage Kobe: Kobe struggled on Sunday in the preseason opener, but looked like the Kobe of old in tonight’s game. He played 20 minutes and went 5-9 from the field, and 2-5 from behind the arc. He hit classic fallaways, contested threes, looked fluid and confident, and didn’t force things as he did in the first game.

Hey, a 20-year vet needs some time to get into mid-season form too!

You can’t handle Randle: This might have been Randle’s best game as a Laker. He was aggressive at getting into the paint, and showed off his footwork and touch around the basket. He also handled the ball way more often than he did on Sunday night. Randle’s ball-handling and passing ability for his size is something that the Lakers need to utilize and they did so tonight. That said, I think the most impressive play by Julius was when he pressured his man near the right wing, forced a turnover, and took it coast-to-coast for the dunk. We’ve heard all about Metta World Peace’s influence on Randle, and this was a perfect example of that. He got in his man’s face, made him uncomfortable, then used quick hands to jar the ball loose. It was very MWP-esque.

He finished with 16 points (7-12 from the field), five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. He did miss four of his six free throw attempts, though. Can’t miss the freebies.

Living at the line: Lou Williams’ saviness for getting to the line is no joke. He shot just 4-12 in this one, but went 12-12 from the free throw line too. That put him at 20 points on 12 shots, which is efficient scoring. What’s the difference between he and Nick Young? Young, on the other hand, went 4-13 from the field, yet got to the line just five times. He finished with 13 points on those 13 shots. Lou Williams is efficient, Nick Young is not.

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