While Kobe scored his usual 27 plus points and Andrew Bynum chipped in his increasingly more consistent 14 points and nine rebounds, it was forward Luke Walton who quietly finally showed signs of returning to form for the Lakers in their 113-91 blowout of the Clippers. Walton scored 15 points for the Lakers and appeared to regain much of the confidence he lost by a slow start as the game progressed.
Last season, #4 was arguably the Lakers’ second best player on the court behind Kobe for many games, compiling superb all-around averages of 11 points, five rebounds and four assists while garnering league-wide attention as one of the NBA’s most improved players. This season has been a different story altogether for Walton as he has struggled to find his way in the Lakers faster paced offense while also battling a myriad of injuries that have impacted his role with the team.
Last night, Walton was central to the Lakers dismantling of the Clippers, knocking down all six of his shots, including three from beyond the arc. The last stat is particularly telling as Luke has appeared timid for much of the Lakers’ first 23 games, frequently passing up wide-open threes. Last season, Walton shot 39% from three point land, nearly landing him a spot in the three point contest during All-Star Weekend. In a promising sign, Walton passed up his first open three of the game, but showed no hesitation whatsoever in nailing down his next three attempts.
After practice on Wednesday of last week, Coach Jackson called out Walton for his poor timing and all-around dismal practice session. If last night’s game is any indicator, it looks like the old Luke has arrived just in time for the Lakers’ four game road trip.