Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Lakers, they couldn’t end 2017 with a win, despite their best efforts. They fell in double overtime to the Houston Rockets, 148-142, but Julius Randle had his best game of the season in his second start.
Randle finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. He was the first Laker to put up such numbers since Shaquille O’Neal back in 2004.
Following the loss, Randle spoke about what led to his big night, of which he had a simple explanation, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Just aggressive. Mentally locked in. Attacking as soon as I got it to start the game.”
Randle was dominant from the opening tip, and was key to the Lakers remaining within striking distance despite the Rockets’ huge first quarter. He had 14 points and seven rebounds in the opening stanza and again, credited the mental side of the game for coming out strong:
“Just mentally trying to be prepared. Like I have been all year.”
This has been something of an up and down season for Randle. His minutes have fluctuated wildly for most of the season and while, at times, he has looked like the Lakers’ best player. But on other occasions he has seemed checked out of the game.
Nonetheless, when Randle is locked in there are very few players who can contain him as his combination of size, strength, speed, and ballhandling is tough for most bigs. Games like his against the Rockets just show what he is capable of on a nightly basis.
If Randle is able to put up performances like this more consistently, those minutes issues will become a thing of the past and he could find himself back in the starting lineup on a permanent basis.
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