The Los Angeles Lakers entered the back-to-back set against the Golden State Warriors clearly at a disadvantage. Already without point guard D’Angelo Russell for 2-3 weeks, head coach Luke Walton stated that Nick Young and Julius Randle would not suit up for Friday’s contest at Staples Center.
All in all, the Lakers would go on to lose Friday’s contest by a score of 109-85. Without the three scorers in the starting lineup, Walton had to adjust both his game plan and rotation. Jose Calderon, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram were inserted into the starting lineup, which promptly caused a trickle-down effect for minutes.
Friday’s contest marked the third game between the Lakers and Warriors this season, after the Lakers completed a blowout victory in the first matchup. It should be noted that the last contest between these two in the regular season is the final game of the season, with potential playoff implications.
Walton understood the circumstances entering Friday’s contest and used it as a learning experience for the young roster. When asked about the disadvantage he faced, Walton reiterated the energy and enthusiasm both Young and Randle bring, via Ryan Ward of LakersNation.com:
Luke Walton (1/2): “I mean Nick & Julius bring probably more energy to the team than anyone else that we have just by the way they play…"
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) November 26, 2016
Entering Friday’s game, Randle is averaging 13.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Young, who has transitioned seamlessly into the starting shooting guard role, is averaging 13.9 points (on 46 percent shooting), 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Young has continued to embrace his role in Walton’s system, while surprisingly showing an attention to defense. During the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Young embraced the challenge against Russell Westbrook.
Randle is steadily emerging into a potential All-Star candidate, as his all-around game has flourished under the up-tempo pace. His agility creates constant mismatches on the fast break, while his strength in the paint is tough to guard against.
The upside from the blowout loss happens to reside with Ingram. While the rookie continues adjusting to the NBA, his opportunity has come via the bench.
With the Lakers getting off to such a strong beginning, the starting lineup has had to play increased minutes in crucial situations, attempting to secure the victory. However, Ingram saw a career-high 39 minutes of action on Friday.
Ingram did have a forgettable game shooting-wise, going 3-for-18 from the field for eight points, he added nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Young, with his sprained toe, is expected to play tomorrow against the Atlanta Hawks, but Randle’s status remains in question.