Lakers coach Darvin Ham has no plans to bench D


Lakers coach Darvin Ham has no plans to bench D'Angelo Russell.


Getty Images

Lakers coach Darvin Ham has no plans to bench D’Angelo Russell.

D’Angelo Russell struggled in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Game 1 loss to the Denver Nuggets, but the team is not ready to send him to the bench just yet.

Russell had a rough night shooting the ball. He was just 6-of-20 from the field and just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. Russell played 41 minutes and finished with 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. He was the lone Lakers’ starter with a positive plus-minus. Lakers coach Darvin Ham is confident Russell can turn it around.

“DLo is a huge reason why we’re here in the first place,” Ham said after Game 1. “I’m not gonna bail out on my player just because he’s missing the shots he normally makes.”

The opponent and playoff implications amplify the criticism thrown Russell’s way. Last year, he had a miserable showing against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. Russell had his role reduced and averaged just 6.3 points per game on 32.3% shooting. He was sent to the bench before the closeout game.


Lakers Guard D’Angelo Russell Not ‘Mad’ After Rough Night

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell had a rough shooting night against the Denver Nuggers.

Getty ImagesLakers guard D’Angelo Russell had a rough shooting night against the Denver Nuggers.

Russell can be a sparkplug for the Lakers when the shots are falling. He shot a career-best 41.5% on his 3-pointers this season and tallied 19 points in a Play-In win against the New Orleans Pelicans. Russell shot 50% from 3-point land in that game.

“I mean, I can’t be mad,” Russell said of his Game 1 struggles. “I don’t recall the last time I got 20 shots. So for me to get 20 good looks — not 20 ‘good,’ probably five or six of them were questionable. I know what I’m capable of. So, honestly, I’m excited. I’m excited about that.

D’Angelo Russell: “Great looks. I can’t be mad. I don’t recall the last time I got twenty shots. So for me to get twenty good looks — not twenty ‘good,’ probably five or six of them were questionable. I know what I’m capable of. Honestly, I’m excited. I’m excited about that.”…

“I just feel like sometimes the ball just don’t fall. I was locked in on the details and the little things just to try to stay on the floor defensively and things like that. And you look up, your shots aren’t falling. So, no love lost. Can’t be upset about that one. Be ready for the next one.”


Lakers Star Anthony Davis Shows Support for D’Angelo Russell

Lakers star Anthony Davis had some encouraging words for D'Angelo Russell.

Getty ImagesLakers star Anthony Davis had some encouraging words for D’Angelo Russell.

Lakers star Anthony Davis also had some encouraging words for Russell. The All-Star forward told Russell to flush the performance and get ready for the next one.

“Just get ready for Game 2,” Davis said. “We can’t do anything about this. But you can do something about Game 2. We know what D-Lo brings to our team. Offensively, he can score, shoot the ball extremely well. Just got to do it. It’s not a regular season game where we have time. We’re down 0-1.”

Davis and LeBron James carried the load for the Lakers in the loss. Davis recorded 32 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. James added 27 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. However, he also turned the ball over seven times. The Nuggets, as a team, only had six turnovers.

“You don’t have much room for error versus Denver’s team, especially at their home floor. They’re just a team that’s been through everything,” James said. “Obviously, they’re the defending champions, so you gotta execute, you gotta make shots, you gotta defend. And then you can’t give them extra possessions.”

Game 2 between the Lakers and Nuggets is slated for Monday.

J.R. DeGroote covers the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Lakers for Heavy.com. He covered local and statewide sports as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and has decades of experience in digital media with previous stops at SB Nation and Bleacher Report. He has won multiple state, regional and national honors for sports reporting and photography. More about J.R. DeGroote





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