Luke Walton has a simple message for his team’s matchup against Portland on Thursday: “Go out and do what you did last game.”
Walton’s squad was in control the entire night on Tuesday, finishing with a 113-93 victory over a Detroit team that had beaten Golden State a couple days earlier.
While the Lakers excelled on both sides of the ball, the offensive key was having a balanced attack, as seven players scored in double figures.
Here is how each contributed to the victory.
Julius Randle (17 points, 7-of-9, seven rebounds)
Randle has been a revelation as the center of the Lakers’ second unit. Opposing bigs haven’t been able stay in front of him, and Detroit’s weren’t exceptions.
The 22-year-old constantly took his defender off the dribble, using his speed to get into the paint and his power to finish at the rim.
And while so much of Randle’s development has been focused on his jumper, he hasn’t really even needed it against opposing second-stringers.
Fourteen of his points came in the paint and the other three were from free throws, as he continued to thrive while paired with Kyle Kuzma — whose shooting has led to more space for Randle’s driving capabilities.
“Guys can’t just sag off of people,” Kuzma said at Wednesday’s practice. “They actually have to defend somebody on the 3-point line. He’s doing a great job this year of attacking the rim and playing within himself and playing for the team.”
Kyle Kuzma (16 points, 6-of-8, six rebounds, four 3-pointers)
Speaking of Kuzma’s shooting, it hadn’t really been there to start the season. Opponents still respected his jumper because of his red-hot Summer League and preseason, but he began the year just 6-of-24 from deep.
But the rookie broke out of his slump on Wednesday by canning all four of his attempts from deep. His 3-point success was aided by a couple of nice screens from Andrew Bogut and Josh Hart, but his work inside the arc was all of his own doing.
Like Randle, Kuzma was too quick for Detroit’s bigs, leading Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy to say that the duo “took apart” his front court.
Larry Nance Jr. (14 points, 12 rebounds, three steals)
Cobbling together his fourth double-double in seven games, Nance once again showed why he was the right choice to start at power forward this season.
He hustled on both sides of the ball and got a couple of nice buckets out of pick-and-rolls.
And while he converted his own first-quarter steal into a fast-break dunk, Nance’s highlight of the night came with more finesse than power.
When Nance’s defender cheated a bit too far to help on a pick-and-roll, Brook Lopez served up a lob. The pass was too high, but Nance, an excellent leaper, bounced up and managed just the right amount of touch to tip it in from way above the rim.
Kentavoius Caldwell-Pope (13 points, six rebounds)
Good for two fast-break buckets a night, KCP met his quota in his first game against his former team.
Even more importantly, Caldwell-Pope hit two 3-pointers on the night, which will be huge for the Lakers’ spacing if he can keep it going.
L.A. entered the game last in both 3-point percentage and made triples, but went 12-of-26 against the Pistons.
Consistent behind-the-arc production from Kuzma, KCP and Brook Lopez (who also made two 3’s) will go a long way for the team’s offense.
Lonzo Ball (13 points, six rebounds)
While Ball’s three assists were fewer than half of his season average, Walton felt that he was instrumental to the team’s offensive success.
In particular, he was pleased with how Lonzo made sure that the team kept pushing the ball up the floor instead of walking into half-court sets.
But pace is about more than just fast-breaks, as shown below when he slithered through Detroit’s pick-and-roll defense to score at the cup within the first half of the shot clock.
“I feel like I controlled the pace a lot better than I had been doing,” Ball said. “That’s always going to play in our favor.”
Brandon Ingram (13 points, six assists, four steals)
Ingram didn’t finish with the most points, but he had perhaps the most versatile offensive display.
He threw down a nice fast-break slam from KCP, but his most valuable plays came in the half court, particularly out of pick-and-rolls.
The 20-year-old showed composure in these instances, making the right reads even when trapped by a double team. And his long strides and wingspan came into play when it came time to attack the rack on his own.
“The advantage of having that length is you get to take different angles than 99 percent of the people playing,” Walton said.
Jordan Clarkson (10 points, four assists)
Like Ball and Ingram, Clarkson was vital to the Lakers’ ball movement, as the team finished with a season-best 30 assists.
Clarkson might be the Lakers’ leading scorer, but as de facto backup point guard he has done a nice job of keeping his teammates involved.
Also the team’s leader in 3-point percentage, Clarkson did most of his work inside the arc for this game, slashing in for layups or kicking out to open shooters.