After missing six games, D’Angelo Russell made his return to the starting lineup and led the Los Angeles Lakers to a win over the Toronto Raptors.
Russell led the Lakers in scoring with 28 points, with 16 of them coming in the fourth quarter. The guard looked 100 percent healthy, breaking down the defense and pulling up for deep 3s to sink the Raptors.
Crpyto.com Arena exploded every time Russell nailed a 3 in the final period, and he explained he wanted to be the one to get them going every night. “Energy. I keep saying it, but the fans here, I know this from being here, the fans are ready to explode at a certain point in the game. It could be the start of the game then it dies down a little bit and in that third quarter and fourth quarter, they’re ready.
“So I know that. I just want to bring that energy and kind of give them that. Vando is making all these Dennis Rodman plays for us. I want to be the guy that’s hyping up the crowd and letting them feel that more because it’s huge for us. You’ve got Austin Reaves coming in and dominating the game. [Dennis] Schroder and those guys dominating. Rui [Hachimura]. I want to be the guy that’s kind of hyping that because it shouldn’t go unnoticed and our fans are the first ones to kind of put a battery on someone’s back that has a little momentum, so why not? … Just trying to bring that positivity and embracing what our fans have to offer and giving it to them as well.”
When it comes to shooting transition 3s, Russell said he understands they’re risky but worth the energy from the crowd when they go in.
“I feel the flow. I used to take more of those throughout the flow of the game and I started realizing they were bad shots. … We get a stop and we’re pushing it and everybody’s crashing trying to run in transition and I think I’m about to make the right play but I’m all out on this three that might turn this place upside down if it goes in.
“I feel the energy if we come down get a dunk, get a steal and come back and get another stop and hit a transition three and they call a timeout. I can feel that, so making it is a reward. Missing it is a high risk, but I work on it and I trust it. It’s fun when it goes in.”
Even though he missed a decent chunk of time, Russell said he had no issues with his own energy and was happy to be back on the court. “It was just fine, honestly. Just embracing it. You work so hard that you don’t really embrace the moments when you’re in them. Obviously, my first game back. Just itching to get back on the floor to get back out there and perform and be out there with those guys. They were playing at a high level and to be able to contribute to that is just fun. I couldn’t help but smile.”
The Lakers’ ceiling when they are healthy is about as high as a fan could hope for, and with Russell back in the mix, they certainly seem like a team that can make a playoff run. The energy surrounding the team is palpable and hopefully it keeps up down the stretch.
D’Angelo Russell embracing ability to provide confidence to Lakers
Russell has definitely matured as a player and person since his first stint in Los Angeles. Now, as someone who’s been in the league for a bit, he’s embracing his natural confidence and ability to instill that into his teammates.
“I’m not sure. I’m definitely trying to be a guy that if you’re lacking any, look across your shoulder and see me kind of really embracing that and knowing that just having that confidence gets you through ups and gets you through downs. … As a young player, knowing that I used to lack it here and there. I’m a semi-veteran in the league now trying to embrace that and be contagious for sure.”
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