D’Angelo Russell has had plenty of hot stretches and important plays and shots since returning to the Lakers, both in the regular season and the playoffs. In the past, Darvin Ham has spoken about his ability to heat up quickly and go on “one of those D’Lo runs” during a game.
What hasn’t happened as much, though, has been an extended D’Lo performance across an entire game. Wednesday was perhaps the first example of that in his second stint with the Lakers as D’Lo was absolutely cooking against the Pistons.
After the game, he spoke not just about the rhythm he found himself in but what he was doing to ensure he stayed in the rhythm and made it more than just an abbreviated run.
“It’s my first time this year I feel like getting into that rhythm,” Russell said. “So for me, it was just trying to stay locked in the whole game. Never know when it was going to continue to happen for me or continue to make shots at a high rate like that. I always find myself getting into that rhythm and then shoot myself out of that rhythm with a heat check or something like that. So I just tried to just stay in that rhythm and play the right way and just take what they were giving me and you looked up and I put together an efficient game.”
Russell finished the game with 35 points — the most he’s scored since returning to SoCal — and did so on hyper-efficient shooting, hitting 13 of his 17 shots and five of his seven long-range attempts. That level out output and efficiency put him in some rare air when it comes to Lakers guards.
D'Angelo Russell becomes the first Lakers guard to score 35+ points on 75% field goal shooting since Kobe pic.twitter.com/w5TLoXOha0— just a king from LA (@JustAKingFromLA) November 30, 2023
That game from Kobe Bryant came in 2000, meaning it’s the first time in two-and-a-half decades a guard has achieved that line. As a side note, Kobe’s game came in December of 2000 against the Rockets in which he shot 20-26, only attempted one 3-pointer — which he made — and tallied 45 points.
But back to the topic at hand, even more impressive is that it’s a short list of Lakers guards who have even accomplished that level of efficiency and production. In total, seven Lakers guards have done what D’Lo did on Wednesday, including Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Gail Goodrich.
Ultimately, the numbers are a bit arbitrary, but the performance from Russell underlines a strong season so far for him. While there’s been plenty of (largely warranted) focus on what hasn’t gone right, D’Lo is an example of the positives from this year so far.
Hopefully, his strong and more consistent play is something that translates from a red-hot stretch to a red-hot game and a red-hot string of games.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.