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D’Angelo Russell says the Lakers’ starters ‘stopped competing’ against the Celtics

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His coach felt the same, and pulled them for a bench unit in the third quarter.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES- The Boston Celtics are a LeBron James injury away from being a championship contender, so to beat them was always going to require something special from the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s safe to say they didn’t bring it.

“We felt like we stopped playing and stopped competing,” said Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell following the 115-95 defeat.

The Lakers lost the first half 70-45, and when Lakers head coach Luke Walton didn’t like what he was seeing from his starters to start the second one, he sent them to the bench in favor of his reserves.

“We can’t stop playing,” Russell said of Walton’s message to the team. “Usually when the score evens out, we start to compete in the last few minutes, [and] guys start making shots, so we just have to keep fighting.”

The Lakers’ bench did just that, going on a 22-7 run to close the quarter and outscoring the Celtics by 10 overall in the period.

Some of their success was due to going against a few of Boston’s benchwarmers, but the reserves still displayed that the Lakers are capable of competing with better teams when they lock in. They just haven’t shown any ability to do so consistently.

“I don’t think we can put two halves together yet,” said Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram. “I think it’s just a matter of us putting all 48 minutes together.”

The team’s quotes were predictably dire after another blowout loss, and they reflected what anyone who watched the game could see. The Lakers have given honest assessments like this after losses before, now it’s just a matter of seeing when their lessons start to stick.

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.