OKLAHOMA CITY >> The cast of characters have changed on the court and behind the scenes.
At least for now, though, the end result has stayed the same. The Lakers suffered a 110-93 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena for reasons that sounded familiar.
Their offense became mired with clanked shots from the field (40 of 101) and behind the arc (7 of 35). Despite shooting only 4 of 18 from the field, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook posted his 28th triple-double of the season and the second time against the Lakers with 17 points (8 of 9 from the foul line), 18 rebounds and 17 assists. The Lakers had yet another sluggish third quarter in which the Thunder outscored them, 28-19.
Then again, the Lakers were expected to endure more short-term pain even as they shuffled their front office in hopes of long-term gain. After the All-Star break, Lakers coach Luke Walton followed through on his pledge to lean more on his young group, admitting “their roles are only getting bigger now.” With the Lakers trading Lou Williams to Houston this week for a first-round pick and Corey Brewer, the Lakers also lack a definitive closer and more playing time elsewhere.
Despite shooting only 3 of 12 from 3-point range, Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell posted a team-leading 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting, six assists, four rebounds and a career-high four steals in 35 minutes.
With Williams no longer there to share ball-handling duties and shots, Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson appeared more assertive and comfortable as he posted 14 points albeit on a 6-of-17 clip, five assists and five rebounds.
Lakers forward Julius Randle had a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) despite committing five fouls. Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac had 11 points and six rebounds. Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes, including all of the first quarter. Lakers reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. posted a season-high in rebounds (12).
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