The Los Angeles Lakers lost their second consecutive game last night with the Chicago Bulls coming out on top at the Staples Center. D’Angelo Russell, who missed the previous game against the San Antonio Spurs, played through knee soreness and was clearly limited on the floor.
Russell admitted he stuck to shooting threes and playing cautiously against the Bulls due to his knee soreness. Head coach Luke Walton wasn’t thrilled with Russell’s lack of aggressiveness in the loss.
Walton would rather have Russell on the bench in street clothes if his knee is holding him back, via Mark Medina of OC Register:
“We want him to push and be aggressive,” Walton said. “You can’t play at this level by favoring it. If that’s the case where it hurts, then we need to shut him down until he’s healthy. The league is too good only to go halfway and show some of the stuff that you can do because you’re concerned that something might hurt.”
In 23 minutes on the floor, Russell scored eight points, dished out seven assists, grabbed three rebounds and stole the ball twice. Russell went 3-for-11 from the floor and 2-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Although Russell got his teammates involved with the assists and came up with a couple of steals defensively, the 20-year-old struggled with his shooting. Russell might be better off resting the sore left knee until he’s 100 percent, especially with the brutal schedule the rest of the week.
The Lakers will host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday and play the second game of a back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Walton’s first game back at Oracle Arena. As if that back-to-back situation wasn’t tough enough, the Lakers will face the Warriors a second time this week on Friday at the Staples Center before hosting the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
As of Monday, Russell is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Thunder. It may be a game-time decision once again for the point guard, and if he can’t be as aggressive as Walton wants him to be, he may be watching from the bench.