Lakers News: Darvin Ham Praises D’Angelo Russell For Playing Aggressive Without LeBron James
Darvin Ham, D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Friday night featured a challenging task for the Los Angeles Lakers playing a good Milwaukee Bucks team without LeBron James. The spotlight shifted to D’Angelo Russell to pick up the offensive workload with James out.

Russell showed up in a big way to get a win, scoring 44 points on 17-for-25 shooting with nine 3-pointers and nine assists. After surviving the trade deadline, the 27-year-old has been a consistent third scoring option for L.A. and continuing that play as the regular season winds down is vital for the team’s playoff chances.

Without the four-time champion in the lineup, head coach Darvin Ham praised his starting point guard and kept telling him throughout the game to stay aggressive as his hot shooting game progressed.

“DLo does DLo, man,” Ham said. “Just playmaking, constantly thinking the game. He kept his word when I told him to take over the game. I told him in the first half to stay aggressive, I need you to be aggressive all night. And he did that. The communication was at such a high level. Everybody communicating, all the guys that played, everybody that maybe didn’t play, guys that were on the inactive list, everybody was just engaged and the energy on the bench was supreme. That’s a hell of a ballclub over there, championship caliber team through and through and it was great to get this bounce-back win against a team like that after what happened here on Wednesday.”

Russell saw his name pop up in trade rumors once again this year and it could have been easy for him to mentally check out, but Ham applauds him for playing well despite all the noise.

“He’s been through that,” Ham said after Friday’s 123-122 win. “He and I had conversations, I won’t go into details. But he and I had conversations about that very thing and I don’t want to call it unfortunate, but it’s just a reality of our business. His name was being thrown around because he has value and he’s worth something and other teams see that. He’s an All-Star player. So you’re gonna have all type of things being thrown around from secret sources or whatever the case may be, but we know that we extended him for a reason. We wanted him to be a part of what we’re doing here, the core group that we brought back.”

“Until that day comes and goes and you see that everyone is really being honest and true with you, you’re gonna have that stuff in the air and you just try to manage it the best you can and remain professional. And he did just that. He’s submerged himself in his work, got back on the court, worked on his game feverishly, and then got the opportunity to get back in the starting lineup and he hasn’t looked back since. That game in Utah when Bron was out, he dropped 39, and he’s just been ballin’, man. His leadership has come through, his dialogue that he’s having with everybody, the way he’s seeing the game, he’s making winning plays. He’s been unbelievable. I told him in OKC when I took him out of the lineup, he and I talked and sat down and had a one-on-one and I just can’t express enough how much I enjoy coaching the kid.”

Russell is playing with great confidence right now, taking the Lakers’ offense to another level regardless of injuries. Having performances like this and the continued support of his teammates and coach will only help as L.A.’s playoff pursuit picks up.

D’Angelo Russell discusses game-winner & big night against Bucks

Friday was arguably D’Angelo Russell’s best game as a Laker due to the circumstances and it was hopefully a performance that gives the Lakers a shove in the right direction. The veteran point guard discussed what he saw on his game-winning floater and his big night against Milwaukee, scoring in a variety of ways to help the Lakers come out on top.

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