ONTARIO — In just his seventh Summer League/preseason exhibition, Julius Randle looked like more like a veteran than a sophomore whose rookie campaign was ended in the season opener due to a broken leg.
Despite the Lakers’ 105-97 loss to Toronto at Citizens Business Bank Arena, Randle’s 17-point, five-rebound performance had his coach pleased with the progress he has made since LA’s four Summer League games mid-July.
“I’m just very happy with the way he’s playing,” Byron Scott said. “He’s competing. He’s getting a lot of things right that we talked about on both ends of the floor. And he’s a worker, and he’s worked hard to get to this point. I think he has a lot of ability to do a lot of things on the basketball court. We’re starting to see some of those things come to light.”
Halfway through the first quarter, Randle had already been tagged with three fouls. Nonetheless, the 20-year-old managed to piece together a 7-of-10 mark from the field. His ballhandling caught the eye of opponents and teammates alike, as he collected three unassisted buckets and dished out three dimes of his own.
(I was) just making the easy, simple plays — letting the game come to me,” Randle said. “Just trusting everything I worked on in the summer and staying confident.”
Maintaining the confidence is important in Randle’s eyes. Having played just 14 minutes last season, he has his sight set on catching up in other parts of his game, like not hesitating off the open kick.
But for now, Randle can rest comfortably with the approval of his childhood idol.
“He can do everything,” Kobe Bryant said. “He can rebound, post, push the ball, pass.”
Though Randle and Bryant led the Lakers to a respectable 46.1 percent (35-of-76) night from the field, the other end of the court was a struggle for the majority of the game.
Toronto scored at least 27 points in each of the first three quarters and shot 48.7 percent (37-of-76) overall. The Raptors also bombed from deep, hitting 10 of their 21 3-point attempts.
“It’s not the offense right now,” Scott said. “We’re shooting the ball well. We’re moving the ball well. We’re just not guarding people really well. The effort’s there, but we’re just getting beat on little things that we’re talking about and harping about. As I told (the team), we’re three weeks away — less than that. So they better start getting it quick.”
In particular, Raptors point guards Kyle Lowry (25 points) and Cory Joseph (18 points) both took advantage of the Lakers’ inability to stay in front of the ball by hitting 8-of-13 clips.
“Containing the dribble,” Scott said. “That was the biggest thing. That’s what I talked to our guys about: trying to do a much better job of containing the dribble and keep it out of the middle of the floor. We just didn’t do a good job. The effort was great, but we’ve got to understand what we’re trying to do.”
Kobe Efficient Again
Bryant shot just 1-of-5 in the team’s preseason opener, but his 5-of-11 performance against Toronto has him hitting 50 percent in the two games since.
Bryant, who played 21 minutes for the second consecutive contest, tallied 16 points, while also collecting three rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.
The 20-year veteran expects his playing time to increase gradually in anticipation for the regular season and says he is still “taste testing a few things” in the preseason when the final scores don’t matter.
D’Angelo Russell (bruised glute) and Brandon Bass (patella contusion) both sat out due to injuries. Marcelo Huertas is in Vancouver to receive his immigration documents. … Lou Williams scored a team-high 19 points in 24 minutes off the bench on a 6-of-15 clip. … Roy Hibbert led all players with three blocks — each of which came in the first quarter.