Julius Randle’s newborn baby was lying on his chest when his phone rang on a recent evening after practice. His head coach wanted to talk, so he found someone to take his son, then Lakers Coach Luke Walton had a question.
Was Randle still upset about a heated interaction they had earlier in the day during practice? Randle said no, but he appreciated that Walton cared. Then Walton corrected him.
“I told him you misunderstand the question,” Walton said. “I don’t care if you’re mad at me; I just want to know if you still are or not. We talked about why I got on him at practice. I hold him to high standards. But he obviously responded pretty well and gave us a real nice effort tonight.”
“Nice” might be an understatement for the former University of Kentucky star’s night on Tuesday. In the Lakers’ 116-102 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, Randle notched his third career triple-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. It was the first time in more than two years that a player had a triple-double against Memphis — the first time in 177 regular-season games.
“I just took what the defense gave me,” Randle said. “Not trying to force anything. Get my guys going and making the right reads.”
The Lakers improved to 13-25, with only their third win since December began. The Grizzlies fell to 22-15, and 1-1 against the Lakers this season.
Nick Young finished with 20 points, making six of 11 three-pointers. The Lakers made a season-high 17 three-pointers and had 34 assists against the Grizzlies, who entered the game with the NBA’s best defensive rating.
Memphis, which entered the game 25th in offensive rating, made only 39% of its shots, while the Lakers made more than 50% overall and from beyond the arc.
“That’s the most complete game we’ve put together obviously in a long time, and against a really good defensive team,” Walton said. “Which hopefully reinforces the idea when we play to make plays for each other, we’re tough to guard.”
Young set the standard offensively, and the rest of the Lakers starters joined him. After making a franchise-record 36-three pointers in the previous eight games, Young made five three-pointers in the first half against Memphis.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell also made five three-pointers in the first half. Russell added four assists, including two to Randle as he cut to the basket. He finished the game with 18 points, four rebounds, six assists and two turnovers.
One of his assists resulted in a dunk by Randle, and another in a layup. Randle scored the Lakers’ final six points of the first half, which helped Los Angeles take a nine-point lead into halftime.
The Lakers led the Grizzlies in every meaningful stat except second-chance points, in part because their shots fell so regularly there were fewer opportunities for second chances.
Against the Grizzlies, the Lakers had a 10-point lead in the first half, and built that to a 14-point lead by the end of the third quarter. That lead rose to 19 in the fourth quarter, enough of a cushion that the Lakers didn’t let it go.
Randle was a big reason. “The thing that I liked most about his game tonight was he was alert the whole game,” Walton said.
After the game, Randle recalled how Walton upset him after a recent practice, but this time he was smiling.
“I wasn’t mad,” Randle said. “I was mad at the moment, but it’s just him challenging me to do more. I tried to accept the challenge and be coachable.
“He just knows how to push my buttons. The right buttons, though, to get me going.”