D’Angelo Russell: Lakers Going ‘Full Force’ To Finish Season
D'Angelo Russell, Naz Reid, Lakers, Timberwolves
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers faced an uphill battle on Sunday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves when LeBron James was ruled out prior to tipoff with flu-like symptoms and Anthony Davis was ruled out shortly into the second quarter after suffering an eye injury. This left D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and company to carry the load.

Russell finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists, but shot just 5-for-19 in James and Davis’ absence. And while L.A. did their best to stay competitive, they lost by 10 points. The loss dropped them back into the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference postseason picture. It would have been hard for the Lakers to expect any other result without their two best players, but Russell didn’t want to use that as an excuse.

The Lakers guard urged his teammates to do what they can to step up in their absence, even after losing Davis in the middle of the game.

“Just try to scrape one. I think everybody had to step up, everybody had to lock back in not having those guys and what we were gonna do from there. So just man up.”

Given where the Lakers are in the standings, a first-round matchup with the Timberwolves could be very much in the cards. Russell was asked if these regular season matchups could affect a potential first-round series against a team like Minnesota.

“You definitely got to take it into consideration,” Russell said. “The playoffs add a different element to it, different variables. It’s a young team, they play hard, really well coached. So for us, I think we just finish this season strong, finish these games strong and whoever we match up with, we go full force.

“I don’t think we care about the teams that are doing well versus how they’re going to look in the playoffs. It’s experience versus inexperience in the playoffs, that kind of gets you over the hump. So I like our chances versus anybody.”

The Lakers are almost guaranteed to go into the Play-In Tournament. And if they escape that, they will either be the No. 7 or No. 8 seed and face one of the Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets or Oklahoma City Thunder. Those are all extremely different matchups, but Russell seems confident in the Lakers’ chances regardless. They first need Davis and James back in the lineup to have their best chances at finishing 3-0 in their final trio of games.

Rui Hachimura discusses Lakers playing without LeBron James or Anthony Davis

Hachimura, the only Laker to finish above 20 points in the loss, spoke about what it’s like to play without James or Davis in the lineup and what kind of adjustments needs to be made from that moving forward.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” Hachimura said. “Two of the main guys didn’t play tonight. But no excuse, we’ve been through this before. Just the whole situation, back-to-back after all the road games… So it’s was a tough one tonight. But we’ll get a little rest tomorrow and get ready for Tuesday.”

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