Los Angeles Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell enjoyed his best game since returning from his knee injury. On Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors Russell finished with 28 points, four rebounds, five assists, and no turnovers in a performance that head coach Luke Walton was happy to see.
Russell has struggled shooting the ball since his return and Walton believes that one of the main reasons was because Russell wasn’t attacking the paint due to some reservations about his knee.
After practice on Monday, Walton spoke highly of Russell’s performance via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
“I think he’s slowly been getting there, and I think last night was big for him,” Walton said. “That’s one of the best defenses in the league and he was able to get down there, make layups, play-make from there, get them off. They had to change their coverage on him two or three times that game.”
Walton added that Russell has been improving over the past couple of weeks and that he was happy with his aggression level:
“I think over the past few weeks — even though he hasn’t been shooting the ball great — that the way he’s been playing over the past couple weeks has gotten better and better,” Walton said. “I thought last night it was good to see him play with aggression on offense.”
Against the Raptors, Russell shot 50 percent from the field, something he had done only five other times this season, and only once since his return in December. For the season, Russell is shooting a disappointing 39.7 percent from the field.
His increased aggression wasn’t only noticed by Walton as his teammate Julius Randle also praised him after the game. It’s these flashes that give the Lakers hope that Russell can become a potential All-Star in this league. Now the pressure will be on Russell to have nights like that on a more regular basis.