D’Angelo Russell dropped 33 points in 31 minutes in the Lakers’ 124-115 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, continuing a strong start to the preseason for the sophomore guard.
Russell has averaged a team-leading 19.3 points on 53.7 percent shooting over three exhibition games, and if he appears to be playing with an edge, that’s because he is.
“Honestly, I got a chip on my shoulder,” Russell told Spectrum Sportsnet’s Mike Trudell following the victory. “Preseason doesn’t really count, but it’s a chance to showcase what you can do, and really let guys know that you’re ready this season.”
The results were mixed for Russell in a rookie year in which he showed flashes of the potential that led the Lakers’ to select him second over, while still struggling to per game averages of 13.1 points on 41 percent shooting in the campaign.
The confidence Luke Walton has nurtured in Russell is already evident on the floor, where he has additionally been given greater command to run the offense as he sees fit. How much Russell can maintain this red hot shooting as the regular season approaches remains to be seen, but it’s not going to tail off from any lack of motivation.
All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.