Julius Randle's triple-double leads a balanced effort as LA beats Dallas
Lonzo Ball has been getting the highest amount of hype even before he could step into an NBA game. In fact, the hype has been around even before the NBA Draft when he was picked as the number 2 pick by the Los Angeles Lakers.
And yet, Lonzo Ball's numbers during the first half of his rookie season are strongly disappointing as he is only averaging 10 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He is also among the worse shooters in the league, just shooting 35% from the field including a 30% shooting from the 3-point line. But the Lakers were just doing fine despite Lonzo's missing the last 6 weeks due to injury as they were able to get notable contributions from Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and yes, even Josh Hart.
In their first game since the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers came out firing in the opening quarter and never looked back as they beat the Dallas Mavericks, 124-102. This served as a revenge victory for the Lakers as the Mavs beat them a few weeks back. This is also a good start for the second half of the season as the Lakers are now only down by 8 games behind the eighth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans. Who knows? A little push might be enough to put the Lakers back in the playoff picture, right? Of course, it's always free to dream.
So what enabled the Lakers to notch their 9-straight victory on their home floor?
Julius Randle's Triple-Double
In a game where Lonzo Ball only had 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists while coming off the bench, the Lakers have Julius Randle to thank for as he scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists, notching his 5th triple-double of his career. What made Randle so effective in this game was the fact that every time the Mavericks sent double-teams to contain Randle, Randle would simply pass it out to an open teammate who will either make a three-pointer or a drive to the basket. Simple yet effective, right? Can you believe that the Lakers almost traded Randle? Now, he's playing like the Lakers will need to re-sign him.
69 Rebounds and 62 Points in the Paint= Total Dominance
This game also saw the Lakers playing their best rebounding game which ended in the team grabbing 69 rebounds: 49 from the defensive end and, 13 from the offensive end. In fact, the Mavs only had 3 offensive rebounds which were the same number of offensive rebounds that Julius Randle had. Josh Hart continued his rebounding game as if he was Charles Barkley, grabbing 10 rebounds on top of his 12 points while Brandon Ingram added 9 rebounds plus 3 blocked shots.
But perhaps, one of the many things that made the difference for the Lakers was their dominance in the shaded area. Against Dallas, the Lakers outmuscled Dirk Nowitzki and company for 62 points in the paint while limiting the Mavericks to only 26 points. That's a huge difference.
If only the Lakers can continue playing the way they did against Dallas, putting themselves back into the playoff conversation will be less complicated. They still have tons of problems to solve on top of Lonzo Ball's offensive struggles and the inability of Isaiah Thomas to play acceptable defense. Other than those problems, the Lakers are a great team overall. Fans can only hope that they can get themselves put together a big run that will shake the entire Western Conference because otherwise, they can already start wait for July to come already.