Lakers News: Luke Walton Calls On Julius Randle To Be Team’s Enforcer

Lakers News: Luke Walton Calls On Julius Randle To Be Team’s Enforcer

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Julius Randle, Carmelo Anthony, Lakers
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered yet another blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, just days after a disappointing showing against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Lakers struggled on both ends and yielded a whopping 114 points to a surging Thunder team. As a whole, L.A. collected just 30 rebounds on the night, compared to the Oklahoma City’s team total of 54. The Lakers noticeably lacked their usual grittiness and toughness on the floor.

In just 23 minutes of action, Julius Randle led the way offensively for Los Angeles with 16 points. Though, all of his eight baskets came in the first half. Moreover, Randle collected just one rebound and committed three turnovers during the matchup.

After the game, head coach Luke Walton praised Randle’s play on offense but opined that he needed to be more physical on defense, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“Julius, he was good. Obviously, with Julius, I’ve said it the all year, my expectations for him are high. One of the these I challenge him to do is, we have a young team, and he’s our physical presence. He’s our guy that needs to bully other teams. He did that offensively tonight. Defensively, he, not just he, but we got pushed around. We need him to not necessarily be our tough guy, but our guy when we’re getting pushed around, pushes back a little bit.”

Walton also criticized the Lakers’ collective toughness after a poor rebounding effort against the Thunder. He echoed similar sentiments following the team’s loss against the Grizzlies, in which Walton stated that the Lakers weren’t mentally or physically prepared for the matchup.

Walton believes Lonzo Ball’s absence has played a role in the team’s defensive woes as of late, but made it clear that the team shouldn’t lack toughness without the rookie in the lineup:

“He definitely helps but we can’t, we shouldn’t be relying on our 20-year-old point guard to bring a toughness to the way that we play.”

The Lakers hope to turn the page and get back on track Friday night, when they return to Staples Center and host the Indiana Pacers for the first time this season.