As has seemingly been the case all season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been playing shorthanded the last couple of weeks without their two primary ball handlers in LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell.
James is still at least a couple of weeks away from returning as he continues to rehab his foot injury, but Russell seems to be much closer.
The point guard was upgraded to questionable ahead of the Lakers’ game on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies although he was eventually ruled out.
Darvin Ham gave a positive update on Russell’s status after the win though, saying he is targeting a return on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors if his workout during Thursday’s practice goes well.
Ham said they wanted to get Russell some more live-action in a playgroup before determining if Russell feels healthy enough to return. They did exactly that, and Ham confirmed that he will be returning on Friday.
“Yeah, he went through a full practice today and we expect him to be available tomorrow. Minutes, we’ll sit down with the medical staff and address that but pretty much full go,” Ham said.
Russell himself also confirmed that he is ready to go. “Good, good. I’m ready. Took some time off, unfortunately, but I’m ready to get back out there and contribute. Pain free,” Russell said after practice.
Getting Russell back will be a huge boost for the Lakers in the home stretch of the regular season as they continue to make a push toward the playoffs.
The Lakers have done an admirable job since Russell went down, winning four of six games with a variety of guys like Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder and Troy Brown Jr. stepping up in his absence.
There’s no doubt that having Russell back to add playmaking and shooting to the roster will help though, especially with James continuing to miss games.
Reaves doesn’t think Brown gets enough credit
As previously mentioned, Brown is one of the players that has stepped up in Russell’s absence, providing the Lakers with stellar perimeter defense and timely shooting.
Reaves recently said that he doesn’t believe Brown gets enough credit for the season he is having in L.A.
“I don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves, honestly,” Reaves said. “You know, because you look at stats and the stats don’t jump out at you. … Always usually chasing around the team’s best player. Rebounds the ball well, and then the confidence shooting the ball. He’s a very, very capable shooter and shoots it well. We’ve seen that since the summer when we were playing pickup. So it’s not new for any of us. We want him to shoot it with as much confidence as he can, because we know he can make it. But like I said, I don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves.”
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