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Randle shows what Lakers missed

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    Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle took a shot against the Utah Jazz at the Stan Sheriff Center.

By his measure, Julius Randle has been back for a while now.

Fully recovered from a broken leg that ended his rookie season 14 minutes into the Los Angeles Lakers’ opener a little less than a year ago, Randle backed up that assessment in his second start of the preseason on Tuesday.

After a ragged preseason opener on Sunday, Randle provided a glimpse of the range of skills that led to the Lakers investing the seventh overall pick of the 2014 draft on the 6-foot-9 forward following his freshman year at Kentucky.

Randle posted 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting in his 26-plus minutes on the Stan Sheriff Center floor on Tuesday night. He watched the final 5:52 of the fourth quarter and the overtime period as the Utah Jazz pulled out a 117-114 win to complete a two-game sweep of the preseason series.

“I thought Julius played well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He was attacking, played with the intensity we want him to play with, played hard on both ends of the floor.

“That’s something we’ve been talking to him about and I thought tonight he played much more of a complete game. He had a couple turnovers, but other than that I thought he played extremely well.”

Randle’s rookie season ended in his NBA debut when he fractured the tibia in his right leg in the Lakers’ opener against Houston last Oct. 28.

His return was among the Lakers’ storylines entering training camp and he played 21 minutes in the Lakers’ 90-71 loss to the Jazz on Sunday. He finished the preseason opener with seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and seven rebounds.

He found his rhythm on Tuesday and complemented his point production with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

He grabbed a rebound and found Nick Young open on the wing for a 3-pointer early in the third quarter and later converted a swipe off of Utah point guard Trey Burke into a breakaway dunk.

Early in the fourth quarter, he forced a turnover in the backcourt, then scored on a putback of his miss to bring the Lakers within a point. Less than a minute later, he slipped a pass to Lou Williams on a give-and-go to set up a bucket and a foul.

“I was just aggressive,” Randle said. “Wasn’t thinking, wasn’t hesitant, just playing basketball like I’ve been my whole life.”

Randle was also involved in a brief dustup in the third quarter when he got tangled with Trevor Booker. Lakers center Roy Hibbert came to Randle’s defense and Booker was ejected for taking a swing at the veteran.

Hibbert had Randle’s back after the game as well in his projection of Randle’s potential.

“Julius is an animal,” Hibbert said. “He’s a future of this team. He’s a future face of the NBA. That boy can play. The things that he does at his size, bringing the ball up the court, dunking, sky’s the limit. Never seen anybody like him.”

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