In this Summer League tournament, the Lakers were seeded 11th and drew the Dallas Mavericks. They, however, lost a close one, 88-86 after the unstoppable Jeremy Tyler (25 points off 11/15 shooting and 11 rebounds) tipped in the game-winner with 1.4 seconds left.
The Lakers looked much better offensively out of the gate but they still had a bad defensive start as the Mavericks seemed to score at will inside and from three. L.A. came back strong in the second half but D’Angelo Russell had a late turnover with 23 seconds left when they had a chance to take the lead. That led to the Tyler tip-in. The Lakers couldn’t get a shot off in the last possession and the Mavs took the duke.
Head coach Mark Madsen took responsibility for the last play and the loss. He complimented Julius Randle’s play, who easily had his best game in Summer League. Madsen thought the team played overall but kept emphasizing that the loss was on the coaching staff overall. Madsen pointed out that D’Angelo Russell played relaxed in that game.
Randle, who finished with 17 points (6/11 shooting), is still not pleased over his 20-minute cap but he knows he has to keep it in perspective. He was trying to “create for others and then for himself.” He felt he played much better because he “slowed down” against the Mavs. I asked if there was a concerted effort to get him off to a good start as he made his first four shots early and he answered that he was just taking what was given to him.
Jordan Clarkson ended with 17 points and had his third good game in Summer League. I had mentioned that Clarkson probably shouldn’t play in Summer League but he is because he would rather play than “sit on the couch and watch the games at home.” And as we suspected, he wants to get the chemistry going with Russell, Randle, and the rest of the guys. He knows that they have to turn this around real soon.
Russell ended with an 8-6-5 line. While he didn’t shoot well again (3 for 11), he did end with only three turnovers (though the last one was costly). Like Madsen said, he looked much more relaxed in this contest. His passes were looking great as his teammates were starting to catch the balls. D’Angelo likes the balance of he and Clarkson sharing the ballhandling duties off the break. He doesn’t seem to care all that much about the expectations of being the #2 pick; he cares more about winning and not letting the “whole Laker nation down.” Russell understands how huge that fan base is.
I like that Randle continues to get to his spots easily; he is such a bull. This time around, he’s finishing and that quick start definitely gave him some confidence. Randle is a rhythm player and he got it going in that game even though he is still on that minute cap. Clarkson had a big third quarter as he scored nine of his 17 points there. He continues to be fearless driving the ball and taking the midrange. Russell has talked about getting better defensively but he’s still getting caught ball-watching as he was getting beat on the backdoor. And Jabari Brown did his part with his 19 points. And as he mentioned postgame, shooters shoot. Yup. Shoot your shot, Jabari.
The Lakers will play one more game tomorrow. In terms of Summer League championship, they can’t win it anymore with the loss. But in the long run, it’s good to see these guys get one more run and continue to build on their chemistry. It is a process and it’s going to be a long one. We all have to be patient. Just remember that we’re still only in the month of July and we all have to slow down on calling these players busts or the greatest thing since Kobe Bryant.