D’Angelo Russell gave the home fans a lot to cheer about in the Los Angeles Lakers’ huge win Wednesday night over the Phoenix Suns. Russell was one of three Lakers to score at least 25 points and he made sure the crowd was engaged all night long.
This is nothing new as Russell has spoken about how he loves to interact with the fans to keep them hyped throughout the contest and it was no different on this night. And that desire to rile up the home crowd is something he learned from his first stint with the Lakers from the late, great Kobe Bryant.
“It’s huge. I’ve been here in the past and I remember that Kobe [Bryant] and guys like that controlling that environment from you just dominating the game, and the fans can’t wait to cheer for us,” Russell said after his 26-point outing.
“So even if it’s Austin Reaves, they love Austin, so whenever we can get him going, it helps our team. I know it. I think a lot of the guys know it. Whenever we can return the favor like that, I think it’s good for both sides.”
Home court advantage is something that doesn’t exist quite as much as it used to in years past. And while the Lakers have never really been for having the loudest and most rowdy of fans, the crowd has always turned it up in the most important of games. Kobe understood the importance of getting the crowd involved and now Russell is taking that and looking to do the same.
On Wednesday, Russell had his biggest moment at the most opportune of times with the Suns climbing to within a point in the fourth quarter. But Russell would convert a huge three-point play after which he would give Lakers great Robert Horry a high-five in the stands.
“Obviously I was trying to be focused on the main task and get the win but in the midst of that, trying to get the crowd going and not be distracted by who’s in the stands,” Russell said. “But obviously, Rob Horry is a Laker great. I recognized him. I was in the area so I could show some love.”
That play would give the Lakers the spark they needed as they quickly pushed the lead back out to come away with the victory. As Russell said, the most important thing is getting the victory, but ensuring that the Lakers crowd is as loud as they can be something he enjoys doing and the fans love it too.
Lakers D’Angelo Russell believes starting lineup with Austin Reaves was successful
Another big reason for the Lakers’ victory over the Suns was Austin Reaves, who was inserted into the starting lineup with Malik Beasley moving to the bench. Reaves finished with 25 points and 11 assists and Russell believes the pairing between him and Reaves was a successful one.
“I think just having guards out there that are skilled makes the game easier for everybody. Around the league, it’s a guard-heavy league so we’re trying to be out there and match it up with guys that can create and can score the ball is a positive to have as a coach. So I thought it was successful, I liked it for sure.”
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