D’Angelo Russell ditched slow start to give Lakers momentum

D’Angelo Russell doused the court and took Lakers‘First shot from game 1 first round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Klang went with his 3-pointer.

Russell beat the court again and made the Lakers’ second shot in Sunday’s FedExForum game.

Klang went with his 3-pointer.

By the end of the first quarter, Russell hit one-for-five from the field and zero-for-two from three-pointers.

But Russell got rid of it all, staying balanced and confident, continuing to shoot when the ball hit his side, hitting them regularly after a bad start.

He continued to shoot six of 12 from the field after the first quarter, three of seven from three-point range.

Russell wasn’t going to shy away from the moment because he’s not like that.

He finished the game with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting, 3-of-9 on 3-pointers, and his confidence was higher than ever.

“That’s what I do. I’m a shotgun man, man,” Russell said. “I thought we had good looks. Some of us missed them—I especially missed them early on. I tried to pass to make it easier for the other guys. Then, eventually, I saw one come in, and that was what I needed. I have a few to get in.”

How Russell reacts will be critical to the Lakers’ success against the talented and athletic Grizzlies.

In my last game vs Minnesota Timberwolves at Crypto.com Arena last week, Russell wasn’t adept at his shooting, missing eight of nine shots and both three-pointers in an NBA game play.

Lakers coach Darwin Ham said he comforted his point guard and urged Russell to stay on course.

“I just told him to be assertive,” Ham said Sunday. “Don’t procrastinate. Stop procrastinating. If I call a set and you have to handball, handball. He’s different. He wants to play right. He’s trying to figure out how best to fit in. Sometimes you just have to go out and get engaged.

“I thought he was a lot more aggressive tonight. He came out and missed the first couple of shots, and I looked at him and said: “I want the same shots.” Stay aggressive. He nodded his head and I thought he would be great for us tonight. He was huge, hitting some huge triples when we needed them. I expect him to keep moving forward like this.”

Russell is more than aware of what is at stake and what is required of him.

“You play poorly in a big game that really matters, you can’t be too low,” Russell said. “So go freshen up and get ready for the next one, [that] was kind of my mentality.”

Russell started cooking in the second quarter, his confidence growing with each preparation. He shot three-of-five from the field, two-of-three from three-pointers, in the quarterfinals.

“Honestly, just reading the game,” Russell said. “At this time of year, you have to take what the game gives you. If you don’t roll or do what you need to do, you sort of feel like there’s more you can do to influence the win. For me, it was kind of involving the guys until they started shooting at me. We have guys who are able to take those shots and play after they get the ball.”

Seven assists were a sign of how well Russell had performed. He finished the game with a plus 20 rating and praise from his teammates.

“Obviously he was big today. He had 19 points, seven assists,” he said. Austin Reeves, who also had 23 points and four assists. “Like I said, he’s really good. And it’s not always what you see here [the stat sheet]. This and other things. Locker room. He instills confidence in me and the rest of the guys.”

Russell was one of five Lakers to score 19 or more points in a game.

That played a big part in the Lakers taking home court advantage from the Grizzlies to take a 1-0 lead in the series, which continues here with Game 2 on Wednesday night.

“It’s the playoffs. It’s the playoffs,” Russell said. these minutes.”

Lakers defenseman D'Angelo Russell defends Grizzlies defenseman Tyus Jones during the first game on Sunday.

Lakers defenseman D’Angelo Russell defends Grizzlies defenseman Tyus Jones during the first game on Sunday.

(Brandon Dill/Associated Press)

Just before Russell was about to take a shower, he was asked about his defense in the game.

He was assigned to guard Dillon Brooks, and Russell was firm.

Russell looked at Jarred Vanderbilt, the Lakers’ top cornerback, and asked his teammate if he’d heard the defensive question.

“You saw me, didn’t you? Did you see me?” Russell said excitedly. “That’s all that matters. People around you see it. I can’t control outside of it. Honestly, if I try, I feel like I can.”