Clarkson, Randle Push Lakers to 20-Point Win Over Knicks
In their first seven games without Lonzo Ball, the Lakers lost every time. In their last two, they have won both.
The difference has been a red-hot Jordan Clarkson, who has filled the void left by Ball with back-to-back all-around dominant games.
Against New York on Sunday, the combo guard poured in 29 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, leading the Lakers to a 127-107 victory.
Clarkson filled the bucket himself by regularly going back to his trademark pull-up jumper, which the Knicks (21-26) had no answer for.
New York tried discouraging his scoring with aggressive pick-and-roll defenses, but he was still able to find open cutters and shooters.
“When I get going, they’re going to try to trap me on screens, throw two guys on me,” Clarkson said. “(I have to) break the defense open, find the next man.”
Clarkson shot 12-of-19 on a night when he also found success attacking the basket. But the biggest presence at the hoop was Julius Randle, who refused to back down against one of the league’s top rim protectors.
Randle racked up 27 points and 12 rebounds despite the presence of 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis — who had five blocks in his last game against the Lakers — could not find much success against Randle, who shot 11-of-17 and had several strong finishes over and around the Knicks’ big man.
Like Clarkson, Randle was key to the Lakers’ ball movement, chipping in five of their 31 assists.
Two-way point guard Alex Caruso also helped amend for Ball’s absence. He handed out eight dimes and was particularly effective running pick-and-rolls with a variety of teammates.
Coach Luke Walton liked the way that Caruso and Clarkson played off each other in dual-point-guard lineups.
“A lot of teams will blitz JC all over the court and they will try to pick him up full, so AC has really done a nice job of giving us a mix,” Walton said.
Nice play design on this Larry Nance Jr. oop.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 21, 2018
First looks like a double screen for JC, then single screen for Kuz.
Clarkson sets a sneaky back screen to make sure Larry has a clear runway for the slam. pic.twitter.com/cKc6m4AeWD
Ironically, it was defense that won it for the Lakers (17-29), who struggled against New York’s attack for most of the night.
The Knicks shot 54.3 percent from the field and hit a dozen 3-pointers, but the Lakers locked down late, finishing the game on a 17-4 run.
Meanwhile, the draft class of 2014 pushed the Lakers’ offense to the finish line. Clarkson scored 11 points in the fourth and Randle added 10, as L.A. defended home court for the fifth straight game.
Kyle Kuzma scored 15 points in 10 minutes. He jammed his middle finger, but said is OK moving forward. …The Lakers scored 60 points in the paint and 22 on fast-breaks. They shot 56.0 percent from the field. … L.A. had six turnovers to New York’s 17. … An audience of 18,997 sold out STAPLES Center.