The Los Angeles Lakers snapped their eight-game losing streak when they knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers, and they couldn’t have done so without the stellar effort of Julius Randle. The versatile big man dropped a career-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one Marvel reference.
"He turned into 'Hulk smash' the whole night," said Lakers guard Nick Young of Randle’s game, inadvertently coming up with the best possible descriptor of Randle’s game in the process.
Too often during his rookie season, however, “Hulk smash” could’ve had a negative connotation. Randle would get dinged for offensive fouls and commit turnovers by barreling into the lane with abandon, but on Friday it just meant Randle was smashing up the Sixers pitiful transition defense like a poorly made Hulkbuster suit.
Randle shot a team high 76.9 percent (10-13) against Philadelphia in large part due to just getting out and beating guys in transition. One could say the Lakers success was because of this effort to #RunTheJules:
Randle was beating other bigs down the floor, forcing turnovers, and using a suddenly endless reserve of energy to do anything he could in order to get out and run the Sixers off the floor at every opportunity. The whole thing resulted in this beautiful shot chart:
It wasn’t just Randle’s scoring that made him effective. As seen in the video above, he was active in the passing lanes to swipe his three steals, and he had the second-best defensive rating (80.2 percent) on the team against Philadelphia.
"The sooner he realizes that we need that every night, we’ll be a different team,” said point guard D’Angelo Russell (as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation), and he has a point. Randle’s playmaking and activity ease the playmaking burden on Russell, just as Russell’s presence in the lineup guarantees Randle doesn’t have to force things as the sole creator in the starting lineup.
It’s just one game against the Sixers, but the Lakers losing streak is over in large part because the Lakers rediscovered that both the team and Randle himself are at their best when they’re out and running.