The bone bruise in Julius Randle’s right foot bothered him. So did the persistent whistles seemingly every time he imposed his 6-9, 250-pound frame inside.
But after struggling with his producting in recent games, Randle found a way to reverse the tide. The Lakers’ 86-74 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Staples CEnter may have featured Randle logging 11 points on only 5-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds, far from the double-double performances both Lakers coach Byron Scott and Randle expect on a consistent basis. But it marked a steep improvement from Randle’s four-game slide where he had averaged three points on 13 percent shooting.
“It was the same like everybody else,” Randle said. “We all made mistakes. We missed shots or whatever. We have to take it a day at a time and we’ll get better.”
Randle already did, showing better production at both finishing at the rim and canning the occasional mid-range jumper. Although Randle went to the locker room with 4:29 left in the second quarter because of his bruised foot stemmed from a workout on Saturday, he returned and played “like any other day” after Lakers trainer Gary Vitti put more padding in his shoe.
“He played well tonight. The only difference was he was able to get to the basket and make a few shots,” Scott said. “He’s still been in attack mode and he’s still rebounding the ball and doing all those little things for us. I think we sometimes tend to focus on his scoring or him going 1-for-5 or 1-for-4, whatever that might be. But for me, it’s the whole game, not just his scoring.”
Still, Scott had said in recent days that Randle’s recent struggles partly stemmed from his defensive awareness and ability to relax. Randle seemed more at ease against the Jazz, except for when he was called for fouls. After averaging 3.5 fouls in the previous four games, Scott had said he had talked to him about improving his reaction time.
“You just have to play through it,” Randle said. “Things are going to happen throughout the course of the game. You shouldn’t let it stop you from playing. You just got to keep playing hard.”
Randle mostly managed to do that on Sunday through a poor shooting night, something he struggled to elude from only days earlier.