The Los Angeles Lakers have surprised everyone this season and they kept it going on Thursday against the Kings. In a game that seemed to get away from them early on, the young Lakers were able to claw their way up from a 19 point deficit to win 101-91.
The Lakers looked poor to start the game, coming out flat and disinterested. It’s a testament to the players on the team and the coaches that the Purple and Gold were able to get things together and come out strong and win the game.
Here are a few takeaways from the game:
Julius Randle is the go-to player on the team:
Julius Randle has been the most improved player on the Lakers this season. The power forward has been a better finisher around the rim, a better passer, and a better defender. All of that showed against the Kings.
When Sacramento was in danger of blowing the game wide open, it was Randle who made a few under control plays to keep the deficit manageable. When the Kings were dangerously close to cutting into the Lakers’ lead and pulling out a lead, Randle was the one to get to the line, make a few defensive plays, and create wide open shots for shooters in transition.
Randle finished the game with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. He routinely got under DeMarcus Cousins’ skin but kept his own composure down the stretch, putting up four points, three rebounds, and two assists in the final 5:32 of the game.
Tarik Black’s energy is a major key:
Word to DJ Khaled.
Tarik Black has been a fan favorite for some time. But it seems like the national conversation around him hasn’t quite come around. That should change some after the game on TNT.
Black was his usual energetic self off the bench. He was perhaps the biggest component of a major run in the third quarter as the Lakers pulled within three points. In about five minutes between the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth, the big man had five points, three rebounds, and an assist. While that may not seem huge, the energy was infectious as LA outscored Sacramento by nine points during that stretch.
Is there a Luol Deng problem?
The one negative in an otherwise entertaining and satisfying game was the play of Luol Deng. The forward has struggled thus far in the regular season and that continued on Thursday. Deng scored only two points on 1-5 shooting.
This has so far been a trend in the young season. However, any major concern should be held off for now. Deng is being played out of position as a small forward and the low minutes for every player makes it a bit hard to find rhythm at this point in the season.
Deng is older, yes, and he’s not the player he was in Chicago. But he can still be a net positive in the right situations. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to find those situations with Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. playing as well as he is.
I just preach patience as we are operating on a nine game sample size.
Timofey Mozgov locked Cousins down on defense in the second half. That is all.
And now, for some of the fans’ takes:
@LakersOutsiders CANT. HANDLE. RANDLE.
— nēs (@NestyLuis) November 11, 2016
@LakersOutsiders rjiehg;oWNFGIwnhg;nea;rng;oanhirgeuilbhWAFGJARERGNRA;GUI;OEARGN;rnbg;oabnrg;nb;RGN;wrgb;aERGE – My synopsis
— Nick (@NickoToGo) November 11, 2016
@LakersOutsiders we're looking good, but still got much to improve on
— Jaden (5-4) (@DC4Clutch) November 11, 2016
— Lakers 78-4 (@CrazyLASports) November 11, 2016
@LakersOutsiders nothing beats heart and effort.
— Marvin Gonzales, Jr. (@VynzGonzales) November 11, 2016
— Turi Sanchez (@chefsalmon0178) November 11, 2016
I love basketball.