Ball returns, Randle gets fifth triple-double as Lakers blow out Mavericks

LOS ANGELES — After practice on Thursday, Lakers guard Isaiah Thomas had a simple response when asked what his personal goal was for the 25 games that remained after the All-Star break.

“Win,” Thomas said.

The Lakers made good on that goal at least for one night with Friday’s 124-102 blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

Julius Randle led the Lakers with a triple-double of 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 and six rebounds, and Lonzo Ball had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in his first game back after missing the last 15 with a sprained left MCL.

The Lakers held the Mavericks to just 40.7% shooting overall on what was all-around defensive effort. Los Angeles also outrebounded Dallas 61-29.

“I thought the way we were locked in and following the scouting report and the game plan was really much better tonight than it was pre-All-Star break,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the defensive effort.

When he entered the game in the fourth quarter, Randle knew that he was only two assists away from his fifth-career triple-double. His pass to Kuzma was accurate, but Kuzma missed a dunk, much to the chagrin of Randle.

“I threw it to Kuz, a dime, and he thought he was Dr. J and tried to go on the other side,” Randle said. “It didn’t work out. But he made up for it. He made the 3, so it’s cool.”

Thomas scored 17 points and added four assists off the bench. Kuzma caught fire in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 12 points.

Randle recorded his 10th assist and secured the triple-double after passing out of a double team to Brandon Ingram, who made a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 117-94 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Lakers led by as 23.

After a pair of three pointers by the Mavericks caused the Lakers to take an early timeout just 50 seconds into the third quarter, Los Angeles responded with a run that included Caldwell-Pope making two 3-pointers and Randle giving the Lakers a 80-58 with less than six minutes to play in the third quarter.

Dallas started the second quarter with an 11-2 run to close within eight. Ball made two consecutive 3-pointers to give Los Angeles a 42-29 lead with 8:17 remaining in the first half.

The Lakers went on an 8-0 run to regain their 18-point lead. They extended it to 22 just before the half ended and took a 63-41 lead.

Ball returned after missing the last six weeks with a left MCL injury, and said he felt good while doing it. He played 17 minutes, which Walton said was a couple minutes off his restriction.

“I’m just happy to be back,” Ball said. “I’m glad to get back on the court.”

Ball said his timing was off a little bit, and he felt his knee while sliding to the right, but was not restricted. He will not play Saturday in Sacramento.

Kuzma appeared in a Yahoo Sports report detailing the names of several current and former college athletes who allegedly took payments while in school from former NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency, ASM Sports.

Kuzma accepted “at least $9,500” while in school at Utah University, according to documents detailed in the report. His name showed up in expense reports from Christian Dawkins, a former associate of Miller who was arrested in late September and faces felony charges in two criminal cases tied to the federal investigation into potential NCAA violations.

Before Friday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, Kuzma declined to comment, stating that it was a legal matter. He neither confirmed nor denied whether the report was true. He said he and his team are trying to gather all the relevant information.

Asked if he was concerned about the matter, Kuzma replied, “Nothing. Not at all.”

Student-athletes are prohibited by the NCAA to receive additional compensation or benefits while in school because they are considered amateurs, not professionals. Kuzma advocates payment for athletes, and has been vocal on social media about his views regarding the issue.

Mavericks: Play the Utah Jazz on the road today on the second night of a back-to-back.

Lakers: Travel to Sacramento to play the Kings today on the second night of a back-to-back.

Ball wants to play vs. Mavericks, team noncommittal

EL SEGUNDO — Lonzo Ball said if it were his decision, he would play in tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.

But Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton was not so definitive in Ball’s status. He said the training staff will make the decision tomorrow regarding whether or not Ball will play after missing the last 15 games with a left MCL sprain.

“He practiced in full (Thursday),” Walton said after practice. “We’ll have to see how he responds, how he feels. But he looked good (Thursday). It was nice having him on the court.”

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Last-minute goal ends Lions’ year

LANCASTER — Late in the second half of Wednesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 5 second-round match, the Eastside boys soccer team stared another overtime right in the face.

Just a few days ago, it took two overtimes for the Lions to advance to the second round with a win over Canyon. In the final minutes against Baldwin Park on Wednesday, the game was tied and looked like it was headed to more extra time.

But the Braves scored and Eastside could not recover, leading to a 2-1 loss for the Lions and the end of the best season in program history. Eastside tied Quartz Hill for the Golden League title this season. It was the first time the school had ever won a league title.

“It was a sad loss,” Lions coach Jorge Vega said. “Our boys played with heart. This was probably the best way they played all season long.”

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Back to the ‘ship

ROSAMOND — Freshman midfielder Wendy Campos had launched a few shots from far beyond the box. Each one of them missed wide, and after each miss, she threw her arms up in the air and put her hands on her head, obviously frustrated that her attempts weren’t going in.

So Campos started passing. And passing. And passing some more.

Finally, it was Campos’ pass to fellow freshman teammate Michaela Gaddis that led the Rosamond girls soccer team to a 1-0 win over the Minarets Mustangs on Tuesday night to advance to the CIF-Central Section Division 6 championship game for the second straight year.

“I am a person that likes not just to do it all by myself. I like to give other people credit, ” Campos said. “So, therefore, when I attempt like two or three times and I see it’s not going in or when I see it’s not a great shot, I ended up being upset. So, therefore, that’s why I started passing.”

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Will he stay or will he go? George staying mum

LOS ANGELES — At a point during Paul George’s media session in advance of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night events, fans started chanting, “We want Paul” when his face came on the big screen in the room. George let out a brief smirk when he heard them.

When he heard the chants from across the room, Russell Westbrook, George’s teammate on the Oklahoma City Thunder, yelled “Paul ain’t goin’ nowhere. It’s over for that.”

For a brief moment, it appeared the conversation about the idea of George leaving the Thunder in free agency and joining his hometown Los Angeles Lakers had been silenced. After all, when George made his first visit to L.A. this season to play the Lakers, he fielded numerous questions from local media about where he would decide to go this summer.

It was more of the same on Saturday. But this time, George’s comments gave an impression — slight as it was — that his decision has already been made five months before the official start of free agency.

“At the end of the day, I know where my decisions lands, what my decision is,” said George, who scored 16 points and added five rebounds, four assists and a steal in Team LeBron’s 148-145 victory over Team Stephen in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.  “That’s all that matters.” 

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