Russell Goes Off For Career-High 40 Points
D’Angelo Russell spotted up for 3-pointers. He snaked through the lane for layups. He pulled up for mid-range jumpers.
In short, the sophomore showed off the extent of his offensive arsenal while putting up a career-high 40 points in the Lakers’ loss to the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
“We’ve all seen him when he gets going,” head coach Luke Walton said. “He’s tough to handle. What was most impressive offensively to me — because I already know he can shoot the ball — (is that) he did a great job of mixing it up and trying to get into the paint and playmaking on offense.
“(He was) purposely calling certain plays to get people the ball and coming off picks and making current decisions.”
Russell’s first-ever start at shooting guard couldn’t have gone much smoother, as he shot 14-of-22 from the field, including a blistering 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
Russell — who, at 21 years and 24 days, became the youngest 40-point scorer in franchise history — was lethal when given the opportunity to create his own offense, as nine of his baskets came unassisted.
HIGHLIGHTS: D'Angelo Russell sets a new career-high in points with 40, connecting from downtown seven times. pic.twitter.com/halIIWjZYz— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 20, 2017
Still, his game was far from selfish, as he nonetheless led the team with 59 passes on his way to six assists and only one turnover.
“I feel like I was aggressive from the jump,” Russell said. “Usually when I get myself in trouble turning the ball over, it’s because I’m not being aggressive.”
Russell certainly did make his presence known early, as the bulk of his scoring came in two scorching stretches.
The first was right at the beginning of the game, as he hit his first four shots of the night on his way to piling up 18 points and four 3-pointers in the opening quarter alone.
After sitting for most of the second period, Russell went back to work in the third. He ended that frame by turning up the volume at Staples Center with his play in the final 80 seconds, as he sped to the hoop for a layup before knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers for the Lakers’ final eight points.
Soon after, Russell finished his scoring with a crafty bucket, as he navigated a screen before slowing down to stick Kyrie Irving on his hip. With the defender’s position compromised, Russell pulled up and hit from mid-range while Irving was whistled for a foul when he tried to challenge from behind. He added the and-1 free throw to reach 40 on the night.
However, Irving got the final say, as he finished with 46 points in a scorching duel with the young Laker.
“He’s a great young player,” Irving said of Russell. “We’ve been playing against him for a few years in the league, understanding what he means to the Lakers.”