The Los Angeles Lakers earned their 22nd win of the season on Sunday, as they hung on to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-103 in a game that was back and forth the whole time, with neither team leading by more than seven.
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell turned in a solid performance, leading all scorers with 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He also added six rebounds and five assists.
Games against the Grizzlies are extra special for Russell, as he is matched up with fellow Ohio State, left-handed point guard Mike Conley.
Russell may have gotten the better of Conley on Sunday, but after the game he spoke very highly of him, saying that he is one of the veterans in the NBA that he looks up to, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
D’Angelo on Mike Conley: “One of the vets I look up to…Really paved the way for a guy like me, coming out of Ohio State w/ that reputation.”
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) April 3, 2017
Russell and Conley were both one-and-done’s at Ohio State eight years apart. The Grizzlies selected Conley fourth overall in 2007, while Russell went second overall to the Lakers in 2015.
Conley is not a bad guy for Russell to model his game after, as although he has never been named an All-Star he has led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons, counting this year as the Grizzlies recently clinched a postseason birth.
The 29-year-old signed a max contract with the Grizzlies last offseason, making him the highest-paid player in the league. He has responded with a career season, averaging a career-high 20.5 points to go along with 6.3 assists.
Russell’s play has also improved in recent weeks, as he may be starting to become the player the Lakers hoped he would be when they drafted him. This offseason will be a big one for Russell, as he hopes to lead the Lakers young core back into postseason contention much like Conley has done in Memphis.