No one on the Los Angeles Lakers acquitted themselves particularly well in the team’s listless 121-102 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The team shot 43 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from behind the arc, but the statistic that popped off the page most might have been starting point guard D’Angelo Russell’s minutes.
Russell logged just 23 minutes in the Lakers’ latest defeat, the second game in a row he’s logged less than 25 minutes. In a season in which one of the chief complaints many fans (in the Twitter mentions of this site and this author, as well as elsewhere) have had is Russell’s minutes, it was the latest negative development in an already poor night.
Following the defeat, Lakers head coach Luke Walton told the media why he played Russell so little time.
“He looked a little tired,” Walton said (via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register). “In shootaround even today I thought he looked a little tired, but you’ve got to play through that. It’s the NBA. There’s lot of games, I get it. There’s long road trips. But you have to find a way to fight through that.”
Fatigue would certainly explain Russell only taking two shots, the least field goal attempts he’s ever had in a game in which he played more than one minute.
It’s understandable to pay attention to Russell’s minutes. He’s one of the team’s most important young players to develop, and a major focus of this season should be getting him ready for prime time.
However, on a night when the whole team simply didn’t have it and with the All-Star break in sight, it’s probably worth cutting whichever one of Walton or Russell one disagrees with some slack.