On a night D’Angelo Russell dropped 28 points and tossed in six of his nine 3-point attempts, it was things that don’t show up in the box score that most impressed the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brandon Ingram told reporters Russell was "head of the snake” for the team, while Lakers head coach Luke Walton said Russell was “definitely the leader of the group out there tonight” following the team’s 122-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns (as transcribed by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation).
"I think I rely on a lot of other people to talk and I look up and I'm not even talking, so I tried to be the first to start that,” Russell said.
The night was part of a trend for Russell, who has been positively on fire (ice?) since the All-Star break, averaging 21.9 points, 5.1 assists, 39.3 percent from 3-point range since the mid-season vacation:
Clarkson on D’Angelo: “He starts the game for us. He kind of sets the tone…so when he goes out & plays like that, everybody follows suit."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 10, 2017
Russell added to those averages with another scintillating performance against the Suns that was capped by a clutch 3-pointer to end a 15-1 Suns run/comeback attempt:
Final: @Lakers top @Suns 122-110.— NBA (@NBA) March 10, 2017
Russell carries the #LakeShow with 28 PTS! Booker: 23 PTS. pic.twitter.com/5LEkxdpUF6
Russell may not have felt the need to remind Talking Stick Resort Arena and the greater Phoenix area where he keeps his ice, so his teammates took care of that for him.
From the @LakersSBN comments: pic.twitter.com/gRvGrX2GJM— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 10, 2017
The win ended an eight-game skid for Los Angeles, and it’s clear a little success gave the team’s mojo right back. That it came on the backs of the Lakers’ young players as the veterans cheered them on is just a bonus for a team continuing to build the right habits. Russell’s leadership certainly seems to be a good start.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.