Point guard D’Angelo Russell was the biggest name the Los Angeles Lakers acquired at the trade deadline this year. His return to the franchise that drafted him back in 2015 got a lot of attention and Russell’s ability to shoot, operate the pick-and-roll, and create for others felt like an ideal fit next to the Lakers’ superstar duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Unfortunately for Russell, he sprained his ankle in just his fourth game back with the Lakers and would miss the next six contests. This obviously did not sit well with Russell as he returned with a vengeance Friday night against the Toronto Raptors, scoring 16 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to go along with nine assists in the Lakers’ 10-point win.
After that outstanding final quarter in which he knocked down all four of his 3-pointers, Russell had a message for the rest of the league, saying everyone was lucky he sprained his ankle before praising his teammates for stepping up in his absence, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“They lucky I sprained my ankle, simple as that. I was ready to go crazy, ready to have fun with this and embrace the challenge and opportunities, all the pressure. Whatever you wanna call it I was ready to embrace that. Unfortunately I went out with the ankle thing, but like I said everybody stepped up and everybody held it down. AD been holding it down for us, tonight we tried to hold it down for him so returning the favor as a team is what it’s about.”
This is the type of attitude that has allowed Russell to improve greatly throughout his career. It takes a different type of player to succeed with the Lakers and Russell is ready for everything that comes with being part of this organization.
Not only that, but he has full belief in this roster as a whole. Russell believes the sky is the limit for this roster even without a training camp to get to know each other better:
“If we get one training camp under our belt with this group the sky is the limit. With that being said, we don’t have a training camp under our belt, the sky is still the limit. Our guys are ready, our guys are hungry. As an organization these fans are gonna get us through a lot of it … these fans are gonna get us through a lot of it with their energy so we’re just ready to compete and ready to return the favor for the organization.”
The Lakers are playing at a high level and with great confidence right now and it has them firmly within the Play-In Tournament with the chance to push even higher in the standings. Russell believes this team can make a serious playoff run and if they can keep playing like this, and LeBron James can get healthy, the Lakers could be scary in the postseason.
Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell focused on bringing energy to the fans
One thing that stands out about Russell is his constant interaction with the fans. Russell is regularly pumping up the Lakers crowd after every big play and that is not by accident as that is a focus of his.
“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,” Russell said after the Lakers’ 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.”
Russell added that with the plays his teammates make regularly, he doesn’t want them to go unnoticed by the Lakers faithful.
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