Julius Randle dribbles against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 11, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Lakers Stomp Cavs Behind Randle's 36 Points

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The Lakers hadn’t beaten LeBron James since President Obama’s first term, back when Julius Randle was only 17 years old.

But Randle had a grown-man night on Sunday, piling up a career-high 36 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers to their first victory over James in 11 tries, 127-113.

“Everybody’s had a hard time with (Randle) as of late,” James said.

Randle was a tank in the paint, missing only four of his 18 shots on the night. Cleveland tried several defenders on him, but he was able to handle each one, particularly out of pick-and-rolls.

“He just out-toughed us,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He bullied us the whole night, and we had no answer for him.”

When the Cavs did send double teams at him, Randle was able to locate open shooters and cutters.

He scored 23 points just in the second half on a scintillating 10-of-11 clip, and relished playing against former teammates Larry Nance Jr. (16 points, eight rebounds) and Jordan Clarkson (four points, 1-of-8 field goals).

“It was weird, but it was fun,” Randle said. “Took me back to the practice days. Just talking trash and going at each other. It was fun.”

Randle also established a relentless two-man game with Isaiah Thomas, who handed out five assists to the red-hot big man.

“He was probably the hardest-playing player on the court,” Thomas said. “When you do that, all the rest follows. He had a hell of a game. He did everything for us tonight.”

Thomas himself had a productive night at the expense of his former team.

He scored 20 points — including on a wicked crossover against Jose Calderon — and dished out nine assists.

“Given the opportunity, I can play like that every game,” Thomas said. “It’s not a surprise. I’ve done that before.”

Thomas also had three dimes to Brook Lopez, who was excellent on both sides of the floor, scoring 22 points and playing admirable defense when switched onto LeBron James — who had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists but shot a sub-standard 9-of-20 from the field.

The Lakers (30-36) also received 20 points from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who sparked the game-changing run after the Cavs (38-28) tied the game at 76 with five minutes left in the third.

KCP hit a 3-pointer, igniting a 22-3 burst that turned the game to L.A.’s favor. During this span, Thomas led the way with six points and two assists, as Cleveland was never able to pull back within single digits.

Notes
The Lakers hit exactly half of their 96 shots. … L.A. had a 51-37 rebounding advantage and doubled the Cavs’ seven offensive boards. … A crowd of 18,997 — including Jack Nicholson, Lamar Odom and Todd Gurley — sold out Staples Center.

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