The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their fifth straight loss on Tuesday night, 127-121 to the Denver Nuggets. As has been the case for much of this losing streak, D’Angelo Russell had another poor performance.
Russell finished with only five points and three assists on just 2-9 shooting from the field. Head coach Luke Walton also had a quick leash with Russell as he played only 17 minutes and never returned to the floor after being taken out midway through the third quarter.
Once again Russell was self-critical of his performance on this night and applauded Walton for benching him.
“I haven’t been bringing it. I applaud coach for not putting me on the floor in the times I haven’t been. Whoever he put into my position was bringing it and he stuck with it, so I applaud him for that.”
Fans, of course, would rather applaud Russell for his performance on the court but it has fallen off a cliff recently. In the first five games of this month Russell averaged 20.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals on 46.6 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three-point range.
In the last five games that has dipped to 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists on only 32.8 percent shooting from the field and just 11.1 percent from deep. The inconsistency from Russell is alarming considering the Lakers and the fans were hoping to see more development from him at this point.
It is nice that he continues to say the right things about needing to be better and to bring the effort more consistently, but at some point that has to translate to the court. The Lakers have spoken about not continuing to use youth as an excuse so Russell will need to step it up.
Russell has still flashed plenty of potential throughout this season and has had the ups and downs that are expected from any second-year point guard. Now that the season is past the halfway point, everyone will be expecting more ups than downs.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters**