The Los Angeles Lakers’ starting backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young returned in the team’s Sunday night loss against the New York Knicks. Young was solid in his return (15 points on 11 shots), while Russell was less so (three points on eight shots with five assists and four turnovers), but the key stat for both was minutes. Neither played more than Young’s 20 minutes, a trend that will likely continue for at least the next few games.
“D'Angelo Russell and Nick Young will be on minutes restrictions tomorrow in Sacramento,” reports Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, who adds that “their minutes will gradually rise.”
The Lakers are being cautious with their starting backcourt, something that Luke Walton said he thought Young used to his advantage so he could have an easy practice on Saturday.
"Nick was in better shape than I would’ve imagined which leads me to believe he was sandbagging practice yesterday," Walton deadpanned following the game, and Young fessed up to as much after the game:
Here's what Nick Young said when @EricPincus told him Luke Walton thought Young may have been sandbagging a bit in practice yesterday: pic.twitter.com/2UktwMuUrZ— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) December 12, 2016
We can all relate to not wanting to run too many suicides, and the Lakers similarly want to make sure their two starting guards don’t overdo it in games, either.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.