D’Angelo Russell: Lakers Taking Same Approach Now As Finish To Last Season
D'Angelo Russell Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers went on a massive run to end of the 2022-23 campaign and earn their place in the postseason, and eventually, the Western Conference Finals. That run was spurred by a slew of trade deadline deals that landed the organization D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura, among others.

The Lakers brought back most of that team but so far haven’t been able to replicate that success with consistency in 2023-24.

Through 58 games, the Lakers are only 31-27, placing them at the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference. They are 2.5 games back of the No. 8-seeded Phoenix Suns to move up one level in the Play-In Tournament. And they are 3.5 games back of the New Orleans Pelicans, who hold the No. 5 seed. With 24 games left, they still have some time to make a run, but they are once again racing against the calendar.

But also like last season, it feels as though L.A. has turned a bit of a corner. They are 12-6 in their last 18 games, and while it hasn’t been spurred by anything specific like last season, it still feels similar to how last season finished out. Russell, for one, sees the similarities.

“I think we never talked about it last year. We just kind of played one game at a time,” Russell said. “We were clicking as well, so for us, it made it easy for any individual to kind of capitalize the game. I just remember Vando winning games at that time. Rui [Hachimura] was winning games. AR, Bron, AD, obviously, myself.

“Everybody brought their hard hats in and felt like they were a part of it. I think that’s where we’re at now. A lot of guys are coming back from injury, but as a whole, the guys that are playing feel like something is brewing.”

Things don’t get any easier for the Lakers, though, as they face a gauntlet of a schedule. Eight of their next nine games are against teams ahead of them in the standings. Russell, though, isn’t focused on that fact.

“I don’t know who we play, but like I said, just the one game at a time mentality. We’ve beat some of the best teams and we’ve lost to teams that aren’t the best, so just coming in knowing that it’s about us, focusing on us, preparing ourselves for each game. I think we’ll be alright… Just locking in.”

Russell is correct in the one game at a time approach. It’s really the only way the Lakers can face this stretch without having the same problem as last season. If the Lakers look too far ahead, they could start to add unnecessary pressure to each result, causing fatigue in the long run.

This year, the Lakers are just going to do what they can to take care of business each night, and focus on the bigger picture when it starts to matter more.

D’Angelo Russell unconcerned by slow start to second half

It wasn’t the best start to the post-All-Star section of the season when the Lakers laid an egg against the Golden State Warriors. However, Russell was never worried and knew that they would turn things around after a sluggish performance.

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