After benching D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson down the stretch of recent games, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott reversed course on Sunday, telling reporters that he planned to let the young Lakers close games for the rest of the year "no matter what."
When asked about the change after the Lakers' Monday practice, Russell told Shahan Ahmed of NBC Los Angeles "I wasn't really aggravated or bothered by being on the bench because we were making runs."
Russell has played in 56 of the Lakers' 69 fourth quarters this year, tied for second-most appearances by any player on the team. However, NBA.com's clutch stats reinforce the idea that when the game is on the line, Scott has often went with Lou Williams' instead of Russell to close games, with Williams' 24 appearances in clutch situations ranking third on the Lakers while Russell's 17 rank sixth on the team.
Still, Russell also says he has not let the benching's bother him, even if they come with no explanation:
Asked D'Angelo Russell how he's matured this season with regards to being on the bench late in games: pic.twitter.com/JMWILYLJro— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) March 21, 2016
Russell opted out of saying anything crazy, but the rookie did acknowledge he is happy he will be getting the opportunity to play down the stretch of the Lakers' last 13 games:
But Russell added "it's a great thing to hear" that Byron plans to play him, Randle and Clarkson at end of games through rest of season— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 21, 2016
Whether or not they agree with his first few comments, it's safe to say most Lakers fans echo Russell's sentiments about him getting to close games being "a great thing to hear."
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.