The first season opener in 20 years without Kobe. King Walton at the helm. Swaggy P…starting? (gulp). It was a weird night for Lakers fans, but a very successful one. As King Walton has said, this season isn't about wins and losses, but is about the process. It’s about creating a culture of playing a certain way and the young core learning his system, and last night gave the fans a glimpse at what the future will look like.
After 3 seasons of talking about potential and what could be, the fans saw their young bucks blossom. Last year’s 2nd overall pick D’Angelo Russell carried the team in the first half. He scored 12 points in the first quarter alone, including hitting a 3 3-pointers, which allowed him to yell “This my S#%!”. After Russell started it off, Julius Randle kept the team in the game. He made 4 of 5 shots in the second, and finished the game with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assist on 81.8% (!!!) from the field.
Then it was Clarkson’s turn, and he proved that he was well worth the 4 year, $50 million contract that King Kupchak gave him in the offseason. After only playing 6 minutes in the first half, Clarkson exploded in the second for 23 on 7/9 shooting and 2/2 from three.
The game was tied 112-112 with just under three minutes to go, and the Lakers youngsters were given a challenge of stopping Harden and the Rockets and making clutch shots. Outscoring the Rockets 8-2 the rest of the way, in the words of D’Angelo Russell, maybe this team does have ice in their veins.