The Los Angeles Lakers finally put an end to their eight-game losing streak on Friday night as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers and point guard D’Angelo Russell was a key reason why. The team gets no chance to bask in their victory however, as they must turn right around and play the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Russell only recently returned to the court for the Lakers after a PRP injection in his knee kept him out for a couple weeks. As such, the Lakers are playing things safe with their point guard for the time being.
According to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, Russell will sit out tonight’s game, the second of a back-to-back:
D’Angelo Russell is out for tonight’s game. He’s resting on the second night of a back-to-back. Could be some knee soreness.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 17, 2016
In place of Russell, Luke Walton has decided to put rookie Brandon Ingram back in the starting lineup according to Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
Brandon Ingram will start for D'Angelo Russell tonight for the Lakers.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 17, 2016
As Trudell pointed out, there could be some soreness still present with Russell, but in all likelihood the Lakers are just bringing along their point guard slowly. Russell has been on a minutes restriction since returning and the Lakers want to make sure everything is 100 percent correct and not risk making things worse on Russell’s knee.
As Walton has said many times, the main goal of this season is to develop the young players and set the foundation for the team. Russell has already missed a number of games and the Lakers can’t afford for it to get worse.
With Ingram in the lineup now, it will be interesting to see how they match up against the explosive Cavaliers backcourt of Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith.