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Julius Randle dominated in controlled chaos against the Hornets

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The third-year forward put together one of his finest efforts of the season in the loss.

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Conventional wisdom holds that one shouldn’t kick a hornets’ nest. Julius Randle disregarded that oft-said idiom on Tuesday night, smashing, stomping, and trampling all over the Charlotte Hornets to the tune of 23 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks against one solitary turnover.

Randle missed just four of his 14 shot attempts and generally was unstoppable against Charlotte.

“That was the longest period of time he played hard like that all season long,” Walton told reporters following the game (as transcribed by Mark Medina of the Orange County Register). “That’s exciting to see. When he can play like that while still being under control, that’s when he is at his best. That was a lot of fun to watch him play like that.”

The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t come up with a win despite one of Randle’s finest performances of the season, but his play certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed. His teammates were certainly impressed.

What will Randle see when he looks back at the tape of his game? Well for one, a whole lot of chaos. Randle might be at his best when defenses are tilted, and sometimes even when he’s tilted. When everyone is out of control (himself included) he’s able to use it to his advantage:

Kemba Walker bobbled the ball, and Randle had the window he needed to swipe the ball away from Frank Kaminsky, shrugging off Walker at midcourt like he was a gnat before getting into the teeth of the Hornets’ defense for an easy bucket.

It wouldn’t be the only time he took advantage of Kaminsky. Charlotte’s sophomore starter wasn’t quick or strong enough to handle Randle, doubly so when the latter had a runway in transition to easily bounce him backwards and finish at the cup:

When things got chaotic under the bucket, Randle was able to turn an airball from Brandon Ingram into a Kobe assist by shoving Kaminsky out of the way and mopping up the mess:

A bobbled pass is no problem, just more chaos for Randle to win a loose ball and immediately force his way into Kaminsky’s chest convert from just outside the restricted area:

Even against a set defense, with the Hornets guarding Randle with a smaller player and sagging off, basically ignoring the “threat” of a dribble-hand-off, he was able to mitigate the issue with his ability to roll downhill and gain momentum. By the time help arrives from Kaminsky it’s too late:

Sensing a theme of where Randle was scoring from? Your hunch was probably correct:

Randle also generally made the right decisions as a passer, and did so quickly. It turns out he made things easier on himself by acting on instinct:

Randle’s year has been up and down, but it’s inarguable he’s shown improvement. His offensive rating, defensive rating, net rating, assist-to-turnover ratio and true-shooting percentage are all better than they were last year, and while he may not have fully harnessed all of his gifts yet, nights like Tuesday demonstrate just how far he’s come as a player.

All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.