In Game 4 on Monday, D’Angelo Russell was well on his way not to just another poor outing for the Lakers this postseason, but yet another woeful performance in the playoffs. While it’s been a relatively small sample size, Russell has struggled shooting the ball in the playoffs in his career.
But then, one of the most important moments of the game took place as Russell caught fire. With the Lakers trailing by seven, the offense in a rut and the game slipping away, D’Lo buried three straight 3-pointers in a 60-second span to pull the Lakers ahead, paving the way for them to win and take control of the series.
“I’ve got to give a huge shoutout, again, to D’Angelo Russell,” Darvin Ham said postgame. “I mean, we were flailing, at best, offensively and he was able to catch fire and, man. He put us on his back offensively and put us back in position to have a chance to close the gap, eclipse it and walk away with the win. If D’Lo doesn’t play the way he played, we don’t win this game.”
At that point in the game, the Lakers had gone nearly three minutes without a field goal with the only points coming from a pair of Austin Reaves free throws. Memphis extended their lead from a single point to seven after a Desmond Bane 3-pointer with 5:13 left.
It wasn’t an insurmountable lead, but the momentum was squarely in Memphis’ favor and the game was certainly slipping away.
“It was huge,” Ham said. “He laughs and we joke, he’s like ‘I can miss five in a row but I can turn around and go make 10 in a row’ and I was actually thinking about that as he was knocking them down. Just him staying ready to be aggressive, staying ready in attack mode. We need that.”
It served as a lifeline for the Lakers that they used to save themselves and grab control of the series. In a postseason career in which much of the discussion has been about the bad, it was the good that stuck out the loudest for Russell on Monday, and it saved the Lakers in the process.
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