Lakers Blast Thunder for Largest Win of Season
The trade deadline can be one of the most devastating days of the season, particularly for a close-knit team like the Lakers.
Yet while Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. were sent to Cleveland in the morning, the remaining Lakers rallied at night for the largest win of the season: a 106-81 smackdown of Oklahoma City.
Both teams were shorthanded, as Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye (acquired from the Cavaliers along with a first-round pick) had yet to join the Lakers. Meanwhile, OKC was without injured stars Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
At first, it appeared to be the Paul George show. The Palmdale native threw flames in the opening quarter, scoring 16 of his 29 points to push the Thunder ahead by 11 midway through the frame.
But the Lakers (23-31) quickly struck back with a 22-8 run, keyed by Julius Randle, which gave them a three-point edge by the end of the first stanza.
Randle had destroyed defenders on post-ups in back-to-back games, and this one was just another example of that. He bullied his way to 11 points in the first quarter and 17 on the night.
Earlier in the day, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson said that Randle is currently playing the best ball of his young career.
“That’s Magic: You always take what he says very seriously,” Randle said. “It’s amazing to have those comments from him.”
It was a collaborative effort on the offensive side, where Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the charge with 20 points via a mixture of three 3-pointers, some off-ball craftiness and a particularly sweet possession when he split a couple defenders and finished at the cup.
Caldwell-Pope also had seven rebounds, though Josh Hart — who finished two boards shy of his fourth straight double-double — mockingly took exception with that.
“KC stole a couple of my rebounds today, but I’m gonna let him live,” Hart joked.
Regardless of his total boards, Hart had another nice game, doing a bit of everything with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Brandon Ingram also continued his hot streak as the Lakers’ point forward, tallying 19 points and six assists.“I think I’m a good enough ball handler to bring the ball up the basketball court, and my teammates do a great job of getting open,” Ingram said. “They make the passes easy for me. When I draw defenders into the lane, it’s easy for me to kick it out.”
Ingram used his trademark length to get to the rim on several of his buckets, but also stretched it out for three 3-pointers (on four tries), tying his season-high in triples.
On the other end of the floor, the Lakers did a nice job of limiting the shorthanded Thunder (31-25).
George led all players with 29 points, but was relatively quiet after his opening eruption, shooting 11-of-25 from the field with six turnovers.
Overall, the Lakers held their guests to a woeful 35.6 percent shooting from the field, including 8-of-34 from 3-point range.
It was the optimal recipe for an eighth straight home win — L.A.’s most in six years — and fourth victory in a row overall.
“This game is in the refrigerator...” pic.twitter.com/5A2a8YK1hF— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 9, 2018
Thomas and Frye are expected to join the Lakers in Dallas for their game on Saturday. … Kyle Kuzma had 16 points and nine rebounds. … The Lakers outscored OKC in the paint, 58-42. … An audience of 18,997 — including Will Ferrell and Pharrell — sold out Staples Center.