ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) — Julius Randle already feels the game slowing down after seven preseason games with the Los Angeles Lakers, and the rookie power forward demonstrated his comfort in an impressive finish to their latest preseason game.
Randle scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Jeremy Lin added 13 points in the Lakers’ 94-86 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
Wayne Ellington and Wesley Johnson scored 11 points apiece for the Lakers (3-4), who played a solid defensive game and surged in the fourth quarter despite 18 turnovers. Los Angeles won without Kobe Bryant, who sat out to rest.
Randle grabbed eight rebounds and put on an impressive display in the final minutes, hitting mid-range jumpers and aggressively running the court. Although Bryant and coach Byron Scott are constantly critiquing the rookie, they see the results in his play.
“Every game, I feel more comfortable,” Randle said. “It’s the same looks, the same everything. I’m just knocking them down. Obviously I’m just taking advantage of opportunities.”
Randle also attempted several coast-to-coast drives, showing off the hidden ball-handling guard inside the 6-foot-9 teenager.
“I told my mom at a young age, ‘I don’t want to just be a post player,'” he said. “I remember I was always taller than everybody when I was younger, and people were always like, ‘Oh, he’s going to be the next Shaq.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I don’t want to be the next Shaq. I want to be Kobe.'”
C.J. McCollum scored 17 points and Meyers Leonard added 13 for the Trail Blazers (3-3), who rested four starters as their three-game winning streak ended.
Portland center Chris Kaman scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half against his former Lakers teammates.
With the NBA preseason firmly in its dog days, both teams rested most of their top players in front of a half-full arena in the Inland Empire an hour east of downtown Los Angeles.
The Lakers scratched Bryant and Jordan Hill for the second game of a back-to-back set. Bryant was simply resting for the first time in the preseason, but Hill has a sore left shoulder.
Damian Lillard had eight points and five turnovers while playing 17 minutes in the first half for the Blazers, who rested their other four regular starters on the second night of a back-to-back set that began in Boulder, Colorado, on Tuesday. Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez and former Lakers guard Steve Blake all sat out.
Trail Blazers: Portland hadn’t lost a preseason game to the Lakers since 1992, winning four straight. … Lillard played in his first NBA game in this building, and coach Terry Stotts debuted with the team on the same night in 2012. … Kaman wore a large bandage over three stitches on the back of his head after a collision with Timofey Mozgov’s mouth during Portland’s win over Denver on Tuesday.
Lakers: Hill joined four Lakers teammates sidelined with injuries: Steve Nash (back), Xavier Henry (right knee), Ryan Kelly (right hamstring) and Nick Young (right thumb). The Lakers lost a league-worst 319 man-games to injuries last season. … Ed Davis blocked four shots. … Lin made six turnovers in 25 minutes.
The Blazers finish the preseason Friday at the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Lakers face the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas on Friday in their preseason finale.
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