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Luke Is Not His Father

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This past off-season, the Lakers spent $30 million of Jerry Buss’ poker winnings to convince Vladimir Radmanovic to cross the hall from the Clipper locker room to the Lakers’. It made sense: The Lakers needed a sharp-shooter from three-point range to spread opposing defenses, giving Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom room to work inside.

And now they have that sharpshooter — Luke Walton. Yes, he of the Dead tattoo. Yes Luke, with the basketball legend father whose ailing feet/ankles/knees never allowed him to roam more than a few feet away from the rim. Luke is rebelling against that image and is the NBA’s leading three-point shooterso far, hitting an incredible 68.4% of his shots from beyond the arc. He’s being smart, picking his spots. What more important is he hasn’t become a bombs-away guy — 49% of Walton’s shots this season are right at the hoop, where he is shooting 63.6%, A very dangerous inside/outside combo.

By the way, Radmanovic, who was supposed to replace Walton in the starting lineup, is playing just 15 minutes a game and shooting a nice but not thrilling 35.7% from three-point range.

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While Kobe and Lamar grab all the headlines, it is Luke that has become a rock of consistency for the Lakers this season. Just look at the last game: Kobe and Odom shot a combined 14 for 40 in the win against New Jersey, while Walton quietly shot 4 of 7 (and 2 for 2 on three pointers), plus dished out 6 assists.

Walton was a key reason the Lakers won three out of four last week against quality teams, and he’s one of the reasons the Lakers have gone from “hey, they are off to a nice start” to “hey, they might be really good.” Tonight Walton and the Lakers get a bit of a soft spot in the schedule — banged up and defensively challenged Milwaukee is in town (7:30 on your local Fox Sports Net channel) — but with the Clippers and red-hot Jazz the rest of the week the Lakers are going to need a more Walton.

AP photo by Jeff Lewis