SANTA BARBARA — On the final day of training camp at UC Santa Barbara, Lakers head coach Luke Walton described his team as “a little out of it” at the beginning of practice.
But, according to Walton, his young duo of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle made sure to snap their team back into focus.
“It makes my job easier when everybody is on their P’s and Q’s and ready to play,” Russell said. “No matter how practice is going, at the end of the day if we figure out the turning switch and what we can do to get each other going, that’s a plus in our book.
“Today was a prime example. Practice was a little lagging. We knew it was our last day, and Julius got us going.”
Both Walton and Russell also applauded Larry Nance Jr. for his role in jump starting practice, but Randle was a clear factor in getting the team motivated.
“I preach to Julius every day, man,” Russell said. “It starts with him. Nance is going to bring it. He’s known for that. But it starts with Julius. When Julius brought his energy, everybody’s energy and intensity went up, including myself. I want it to be known that it starts with him.”
Walton hopes his young players can keep their enthusiasm up as the team heads home for practice at its El Segundo training facility on Monday and the preseason opener in Anaheim on Tuesday.
Walton says he has no plans to slow down practices with preseason coming up, and veteran newcomer Luol Deng has echoed his coach’s approval of the youngsters.
“The young guys have been phenomenal, and I really mean that,” Deng said. “It’s my 13th year but when I came in I didn’t know what to expect. As I got to know the guys, I can really say that they’re really hungry.”
Keeping It 300
The night before, Walton took his team out for a few hours at the bowling alley.
According to Russell, his team was outed during the semifinals of the tournament by the coaching staff.
Russell’s squad included Randle, Brandon Ingram and 7-foot-1 Timofey Mozgov (who said he didn’t like bowling because the balls are too small).
The coaches ultimately fell in the championship round to the crew of Anthony Brown, Jose Calderon, Travis Wear and Lou Williams.
“My team didn’t bowl a 300 and there were four of us,” Walton joked.