Walton Begins Lakers Tenure Doing What He Does Best: Bringing People Together

LOS ANGELES — Luke Walton gave them the twinkle fingers as his wave, in addition to his usual endearing grin.

The two women closest to his heart swooned.

They already looked angelic up in their seats, both wearing white, smiling down and continuing to clap their hands involuntarily long after he was gone. Walton had just delivered an unexpected victory in his first game as Los Angeles Lakers head coach, and never did a wife and her mother-in-law look more unified than at that moment.

Shoulder to shoulder in the stands behind the Lakers bench late Wednesday night stood Walton's wife, Bre, and his mother, Susie. Much as he was able to bring together these two women, it's quickly becoming clear that Walton has a knack for forging strong bonds in all walks of his life.

The Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 120-114 Wednesday night because Walton performed another delicate operation in relationship building. He slighted a young and talented guy by playing him only six minutes, 38 seconds in the first half (after taking away his starting job in training camp) and still drew a much-needed surge from him at just the right time.

"Everything we're trying to preach right now," Walton said, "is it's not about individuals. It's about us as a team."

Perhaps that's why Jordan Clarkson, the aforementioned talented, young, demoted player, didn't express a sense of I-told-you-so after he scored 12 points and came up with three steals in the fourth quarter.

"You see us, jumping around, having fun, laughing, smiling. It's just great. We're all out there competing; we're really excited about the year. Coach came in here and changed the vibe."

When asked to detail his specific heroics down the stretch, Clarkson said, "It just felt good to win. That's all I can tell you."

There is a groundswell of community and camaraderie with these young Lakers. That sense of sha...

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