(Photo By: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Lakers at Pacers: 3 Things to Know (3/19/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers begin their road trip against the Indiana Pacers.
1) Julius is continuing to reach new heights
Here is the list of players averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds post-All-Star Break: Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid, LeBron James and Julius Randle.
That’s five All-Stars and the Lakers’ surging big man.
Randle has scored 20-plus points in each of his last four games — the longest such steak of his career. He also has a double-double in all four contests, averaging 27.3 points and 12.3 rebounds while shooting a robust 67.7 percent from the field.
Randle has exhibited a variety of ways to get to the bucket this season, finding much success out of pick-and-rolls and post ups. But lately he has refined a different part of his skill set.
In that four-game stretch, he has been taking his defender off the dribble more, shooting 8-of-13 on drives with two assists and just one turnover.
2) Kuz is finding ways to be effective
Kyle Kuzma has settled into a nice rhythm while filling in at starting small forward for an injured Brandon Ingram.
In his last five games, Kuzma has put up 17.0 points and 9.4 rebounds. Stuck in an extended shooting slump until recently, Kuzma has also hit a healthy 47.1 percent during this run, including hitting 11-of-26 from 3-point distance.
The rookie was at his best at the end of the Lakers’ last game. Kuzma only had four points with seven minutes remaining, but that was before a flurry of tough shots.
Over the next four minutes, he provided a reverse layup in transition, sweeping hook shot and deep 3-pointer to give the Lakers the late lead. However, they were barely edged by Miami, losing by a single point.
3) Indiana has a playoff-ready squad
Over the last 15 games, the Pacers’ defense has absolutely suffocated opponents.
During this span they rank second in the NBA in points allowed (99.8), second in turnovers forced (16.1) and third in field goal percentage (43.8).
Much of this has to do with the outstanding two-way play of Victor Oladipo, who leads the league in steals with 2.25 per game.
A first-time All-Star, Oladipo also carries the Pacers on the other end, where he is averaging 23.4 points — 13th-most in the NBA and third among shooting guards — mainly via layups, 3-pointers and free throws.
Oladipo is flanked by center Myles Turner (questionable), who is similarly talented on both ends.
The 21-year-old is already fourth in the NBA in blocks (1.92), and also leads the league in field goal percentage from mid-range (52.1), while ranking second in points per game out of pick-and-rolls (5.4).
Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (sprained ankle) and Brook Lopez (back tightness) are probable. Brandon Ingram (left groin strain), Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture) and Channing Frye (appendectomy) are out.
Pacers: Myles Turner (left ankle sprain) is questionable. Domantas Sabonis (left ankle sprain) is doubtful.
Tip-Off: 4 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Purple Statement
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, Indiana