The Los Angeles Lakers are now on a five-game losing streak after a 125-120 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night at Staples Center. However, after returning to the starting lineup, D’Angelo Russell established an impressive performance, posting career-high 40 points together with six assists, two rebounds, and two steals.
The Lakers don’t see any problem losing the remaining games of the season as it will help them secure their 2017 first-round pick. However, coach Luke Walton wants his young players to give their all every game. Their recent games against the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets were a disaster after the Lakers lost by 28 and 39 points, respectively.
Fortunately, they managed to show improvements when they faced the reigning NBA champions, Cleveland Cavaliers. Unlike when the Cavaliers played against the Los Angeles Clippers, they used all their “Big Three” against the Lakers. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with season-high 46 points while LeBron James dropped 34, seven assists, and six rebounds. Kevin Love posted a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
It wasn’t an easy win for the Cavaliers as the Lakers managed to outscore them in the second and third quarter. Lakers starters, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Ivica Zubac, all scored double figures. Russell, who just returned to the starting lineup after Nick Young sat with gastroenteritis, became the youngest Laker ever to score 40 points in a game.
“(Russell is) a great young player, I’ve been playing against him for a few years in the league and I understand what he means to the Lakers,” Irving said.
Walton finds “light” in D’Angelo Russell-Jordan Clarkson backcourt
The 21-year-old sophomore guard struggled in the past games after being demoted to the bench. Coach Luke Walton decided to let Clarkson be their starting point guard while Russell came off the bench. However, with Young sidelined, Walton had the opportunity how Clarkson and Russell fit together on their backcourt.
“I think it started with him knocking down shots,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Russell’s special night. “I think we’ve all seen him when he gets going, he’s tough to handle. What was most impressive offensively to me, because I already know he can shoot the ball, he did a great job of mixing up and trying to get into the paint and play-making.”
D’Angelo Russell admitted not being comfortable coming off the bench. His incredible performance against the Cavaliers proved that he deserves to be back in the starting lineup. Walton revealed that he plans on using the same lineup on their succeeding games.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons