The Los Angeles Lakers’ lost on Saturday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the team never gave up. Ultimately falling to the defending champions is nothing to be ashamed of for a young team on the second night of a road back-to-back, doubly so for one missing their starting point guard.
Lakers forward Julius Randle (16 points, seven assists, and four rebounds) did everything he could to keep the team from losing, and he felt his teammates did the same.
"I like the way we played today, we really competed hard,” Randle said on Spectrum Sportsnet following the game (as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation). “I think as long as we keep that mindset, we’ll be fine.”
The Lakers fought hard against the Cavs, and Randle wasn’t the only one who liked the way they competed. No less than LeBron James voiced his appreciation for how the Lakers are “playing the right way,” and there was a lot to like about the team’s approach against the Cavaliers. The Lakers assisted on 73.2 percent of their baskets, and the team was able to hang with Cleveland despite playing at a far slower pace than normal, picking and choosing their spots to run without getting too out of control for most of the game.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton spoke on Friday about how the team improving should take precedence over winning games right now, and the Lakers’ 1-1 two-game stretch offered plenty of growth for the team to hang on to. Randle is smashing up opposing transition defenses with his hustle and energy, and Brandon Ingram is growing as a playmaker, rebounder, and off-the-ball threat.
The Lakers are progressing as much as any reasonable person could hope in their first year together under Walton, and Randle is right that as long as they continue to compete (even if the losses build) they’ll be fine.