Positive Steps

Last night’s win saw the Lakers starting line-up I had assumed we’d see right out of the gate. The starting five of Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez came out of the gates like a comet. Ingram get the Lakers off on the right foot canning jumpers, getting to the rim, making plays. Lonzo supplied some defense and the Lakers were running rampant all over the Sacramento Kings as we did in days of yore.

For a change the second unit really struggled all night. But there in the third quarter was the Brook Lopez we had hoped to see all year, raining down threes on slow of foot centers who fail to rotate out to contest. Brook was stellar last night and showed us his shooting from last year wasn’t a fluke occurrence. Hopefully we see this version of Brook for the rest of the season, although some of that will be based off of how much he plays.

Randle was a force of nature all night long. Sure he made some rushed passes, his 6 turnovers were a byproduct of him forcing it a little too much on offense. But he wasn’t the only one throwing passes all over the building and he was not to be denied on either end. He and Lonzo are developing quite the two-man game and it’s awesome to watch unfold. Outside of one fast-break where Randle held onto the ball when he had two teammates he could have passed to and blew the layup I thought he played great.

Not to be under-appreciated was the long awaited return of early season KCP!!! He hit threes, he was pest on defense, he didn’t make too many terrible passes. KCP looked like…KCP, maybe not Detroit version Pope but the one that was a defensive plus and a threat to hit some shots on the other end. Glad to see him back, sleeping at home instead of jail (no matter how nice) does wonders for the psyche. Hope he plays like this for the rest of the year, maybe even ups it a bit.

Of all the bench players who struggled, and they all did at various times, my man Jordan Clarkson had one of his worst games of the year. He was in foul trouble, had more turnovers than assists and struggled with his shot. I consider this a blip as he was in a weird lineup because of foul trouble to Ingram and didn’t see much PT in the entire second half because the starters were obviously rolling and Luke smartly stuck with that. The mild hue and cry that Clarkson is slumping is a little off-base, at least in my opinion. He’s been our most consistent player all season and I don’t see that changing. Time, of course, will tell.

All in all, this game was a great thing for fans of Randle and for those who would rather the team stick with the youth they’ve developed rather than chase older vets who may or may not ever sign here. The disconnect between what the Lakers are building now and what everyone insists Magic and Rob want to do in the summer is pretty vast. there’s no signing two free agents and keeping all of our young core. Not unless everyone signs on for big pay cuts (also unlikely). It’s kind of on the kids to show it on the court for the rest of the season and show effort and execution like they did last night and against Atlanta, or even better the effort they showed during their horrendous stretch against Golden State and Houston. They can still show they belong in purple and gold. Here’s one fan who hopes they do.