Without LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham decided to start D’Angelo Russell in his place on Saturday night against the Utah Jazz.
Russell had been coming off the bench because of a rough stretch last month, but Ham called upon him to start with the Lakers shorthanded against a red-hot Jazz team.
The point guard looked like he relished his opportunity as he went right to work scoring the basketball. Russell hit shots from all over the court and scored a season-high 39 points in the process.
After the game, Russell discussed his big performance and how he was feeling out on the court, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It was just fun,” Russell said. “Just hooping, as simple as that. They had some coverages that tried to take AD out the game, allowing us to play off the catch and attack closeouts all game. Missed some, made some. I thought I got a lot of great looks. Just try to take this aggression and add it to the next game.”
However, Russell gave some concerning comments about the state of the team’s offense:
“When our offense is working, it’s our defense that’s not. When our defense is going, it’s our offense that’s not. So I don’t know. Y’all tell me. Nah, really, I don’t know. I can’t even give you nothing.”
Russell previously said that the Lakers were still figuring out things as a team and that ongoing process has been slower than expected. Injuries have played a part in Los Angeles being unable to build any cohesion on the floor, but it can’t be an excuse at this point of the regular season.
Scoring outbursts from Russell aren’t going to happen every game, so the Lakers need to pull together in order to solve their offensive woes. If they don’t, then they’ll be in for a sooner-than-expected vacation.
D’Angelo Russell believes Lakers collectively need to have urgency
At 19-21, Los Angeles sits in 11th place in the Western Conference and right outside of the Play-In Tournament. With only 42 games left in the 2023-24 season, Russell said the roster has to collectively start playing with urgency:
“We obviously want to win every game but I’m not gonna kill myself trying to be Superman or something like that. I think as a group, we got to do it collectively. Everybody has got to have an imprint on the game for us to win.”
It’s sounds like an obvious statement for Russell to make, but up to this point, it doesn’t feel like the team’s been on the same page.
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