The Los Angeles Lakers were extremely short-handed when they took on the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night. Jarred Vanderbilt remains out while both Gabe Vincent and Rui Hachimura were ruled out prior to the game as well. Then suddenly, starter Taurean Prince was also ruled out with a sore knee leading Cam Reddish to join LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves in the starting lineup.
Head coach Darvin Ham played just eight players in the game and all five starters played at least 36 minutes, but in the end, the Lakers got the win. One big reason was Russell, who had his second consecutive strong performance, finishing with 27 points and six assists.
The lack of available players meant that Ham had to turn to some lineups that he normally wouldn’t go with, but Russell noted that the competitive nature of this roster meant that everyone was ready to go.
“I think one through 15, everybody’s competitive. Everybody wants an opportunity,” Russell said after the overtime win. “Guys that may feel like they should be playing, so when they get that opportunity, they take it out on whoever they’re guarding or things like that. So I think it’s a good problem to have. We got a bunch of guys that can go mix and match and match up against other teams.
“So when Coach throws a group of guys out there, it’s gonna look a little crazy here and there because we’re trying to figure it out, like I said, but at the end of the day, we know what we’re trying to do. We know what we’re trying to achieve. And I think when you go through adversity like we did tonight, winning in overtime. We needed stops, we needed that rebound, we needed everything we can get from anybody and everybody, and we found a way to get it done.”
There was certainly adversity as the Lakers trailed by as many as 19 points early on against the Clippers. But as is always the case with this team, they fought back and never gave up, which has become a staple of the Lakers under Ham.
Reddish with the starters, Max Christie getting his first meaningful minutes, a three-big lineup featuring Davis, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes, no matter what the Lakers had to do, everyone on the team fought and came through when it mattered leading to another big win.
D’Angelo Russell in awe of Lakers’ teammate Anthony Davis’ performance
A main reason for the Lakers’ success has been Davis’ dominance on both ends of the court. Davis was criticized after Opening Night, but he has been outstanding ever since. Russell made it clear that at this point, he’s never surprised by what Davis does, but is in awe at times.
“I mean, we never lose any love or trust in what he’s capable of. And being a part of what we did last year and seeing his level of play kind of … I mean, I wasn’t surprised or shocked, but I was kind of in awe because I see how it kind of progressed over the time we were together so I know what he’s capable of, and there’s no surprise for that guy.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!