Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell Views In-Season Tournament Games Same As Regular Season Games
D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has gone all out in presenting their inaugural In-Season Tournament as a big deal and it seems to be working. The league is differentiating the courts and uniforms for these contests and numerous Los Angeles Lakers have spoken about the increased intensity they feel in these games. But D’Angelo Russell doesn’t look at them any differently.

Obviously these games are all important just as regular season games to begin with, but the added bonus of progressing in the tournament means something to some players. That certainly could also be the case for Russell, but the Lakers point guard admitted that the tournament isn’t something that crosses his mind, he simply plays the game as he normally would.

“To be honest, I don’t really even think about it,” Russell said. “I just kind of play every game. The court is the only thing that kind of makes you think about it when you’re out there. So I don’t really have anything to add to that one.”

Some may question that as perhaps Russell not caring as much, but it could be taken as a positive as well in that Russell’s mindset and focus on what he needs to do remains the same regardless of the stage. For some, that added pressure of an In-Season Tournament game could lead to mistakes, but Russell just recognizes the task at hand and looks to do whatever he needs for the Lakers to come out with a win.

And so far, the team has done just that, winning their first two In-Season Tournament games over the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies and currently sitting at the top of the West Group A standings. With Friday night’s game in Portland against the Trail Blazers being their third group stage contest, the Lakers could inch closer towards bringing home that inaugural trophy with a win.

And they will need Russell to be on his game in order to accomplish that goal. The point guard has been solid so far this season, averaging 18.8 points and a team-high 6.6 assists. Whether it is an tournament game or a standard regular season contest, the Lakers are a much better team when Russell is thriving.

Lakers Cam Reddish thankful for D’Angelo Russell pushing and believing in him

Someone else the Lakers are relying on is Cam Reddish, who has been excellent since moving into the starting lineup. The Lakers have praised him relentlessly for his great play lately, and one person who has been in Reddish’s ear since the start of the season is Russell.

“If y’all know me, you know I’m not much of a talker. And DLo is,” Reddish said. “Back in the facility, we’re lockermates so we do a lot of talking and communicating, that’s why we have a pretty good chemistry on the floor, kind of know what each other wants and what we’re gonna do.

“And then he just continues to push me and believe in me, it goes a long way. Because I’ve been through hell and back so it feels good. I feel great and it’s just been great.”

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