The Los Angeles Lakers went into their game on Tuesday night without Kobe Bryant and would go on to lose Lou Williams after he played just nine minutes. Yet, the Lakers had no problems turning to their young guys to run the show. This young Lakers team defeated the Brooklyn Nets 107-101 at the Staples Center on Tuesday night.
D'Angelo Russell Shines
After being reinserted into the starting lineup a few games back, D'Angelo Russell continues to get more and more comfortable running this offense. Tuesday night was the best performance of his young career by far. The rookie from Ohio State exploded against the Nets with a career-high and game-high 39 points, which is also a season high for any rookie in the NBA this season.
Russell went 14-21 from the field, shot a blistering 8-12 from beyond the arc, and chipped in six boards with three assists in 35 minutes. Russell's 39 points were the most by a Lakers rookie since 1959 when Elgin Baylor dropped 55 points. For the second overall pick, this season has been up and down. He took a while to get used to the offense and his role playing alongside Kobe Bryant in the Mamba's farewell tour. Many people, including a ton of Laker fans, had D'Angelo labeled as a bust after just a few games into the season and jumped all over the front office for passing Jahlil Okafor up in the draft.
After these last few months, Russell has seemed to find his groove, gain confidence, and look every bit like the freshman star we all saw last season at Ohio State.
Jordan Clarkson shined once again on Tuesday night and even flirted with a triple-double. The second-year guard out of Missouri had 16 points, seven boards and seven dimes. Julius Randle continued to dominate the glass, dropping 14 points and 13 rebounds to secure his 25th double double of the season, which is good for 15th in the NBA.
Rookie Anthony Brown got the start in place of the injured Kobe Bryant, but shot just 1-6 with three rebounds and two assists. Lou Williams left in the first half with a moderate hamstring strain and did not travel to Denver after the game with the rest of the team.
Brooklyn Can't Contain D'Angelo
The Brooklyn Nets had all five starters score in double-figures on Tuesday night, but at the end could not find any way to stop Russell. Brook Lopez had 23 points to lead all Nets scorers. Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 15 boards while Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points and seven rebounds.
Ex-Laker Wayne Ellington had 10 points while Donald Sloan chipped in 11 points. The Nets were actually in this game from start to finish, but the Big Three of the Lakers were simply too much for this Nets team. While the Lakers were without Kobe Bryant, it seemed like the Nets would make minced meat of this Lakers team. The youngters in the purple and gold had something else to say.
The Lakers travel west to take on the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, while the Nets have a few days off before traveling to Denver as well to take on the Nuggets on Friday night.