They are rookie point guards trying to make their way through the
With that in mind, it has been natural for Russell and Mudiay to go hard at each other when their two teams play.
Neither backed down to the challenge of trying to one-up the other in the first three meetings of the season and the same thing was expected when Russell and Mudiay met Friday night at Staples Center.
"Any time you go against somebody that you know, you want to play better than them," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. "But still the object of the game is to win the game. I think they'll both kind of go at each other a little bit tonight.
"But again, I don't want him [Russell] worried about that. I want him getting our team where they need to be, getting them in position to be successful and trying to do some of the little things we've been talking about doing."
Russell was drafted second overall by the Lakers in last June's draft, Mudiay seventh by the Nuggets.
Entering Friday night's game, Russell was averaging 13.3 points and Mudiay 12.4.
"I can tell ever since draft night, when he went before Emmanuel, that's going to be probably a competitive rivalry for many, many years," Denver Coach
"I think Emmanuel is a competitor no matter who he is playing against. But any time you get a chance to go against D'Angelo Russell, a guy that was taken ahead of him, his antenna was up a little bit. They're going to go at each other."
Like a lot of NBA coaches, Malone is not so sad to see Kobe Bryant retire.
"A great player," Malone said. "I think I'm sure I've heard almost every coach in the NBA say it. Most coaches are happy he's retiring, because he's been a thorn in many coaches' side. Greatness all the way around."
Ryan Kelly missed his third consecutive game with a sprained left wrist.