Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell continues to learn

Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) celebrates with teammates D'Angelo Russell and Lou Williams during the second half on Wednesday.

Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) celebrates with teammates D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams during the second half on Wednesday.

(Rob Carr / Getty Images)

Credit D’Angelo Russell. He’s already acting like a savvy veteran.

He played against another All-Star point guard, making it nine past or present ones in his 18 career NBA games.

Why not try to help your odds if you’re 19 years old and still learning the NBA game? Especially if you’re playing against John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

“You kind of try to get a good relationship with the refs because he does a great job of drawing contact and forcing the call,” Russell said Wednesday after the Lakers beat the Wizards, 108-104. “Try to go after what [referees] tell you as far as not getting the foul.”

The stat sheet didn’t look great for Russell. Wall had 34 points and 11 assists. He made nine of a game-high 12 free-throw attempts. Russell had 13 points, four assists and four turnovers.


Nobody was mad at Russell, though. He is improving incrementally.

“He’s playing a lot better,” Coach Byron Scott said before the game.

Russell scored on a floater in the third quarter and then took a nice bounce pass from Kobe Bryant for a layup. He drew a response from the many Lakers fans in attendance on an aggressive fourth-quarter drive down the lane that split two defenders. He couldn’t quite finish his reverse layup but was credited with a basket after one of the Wizards accidentally touched the rim.

Russell also had four steals but did not play in crunch time, Scott going instead with veteran Lou Williams.

Russell has not been as NBA-ready as two point guards Scott coached in the past — Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving.

“First of all, both of those guys were probably a little bit more mature and a little bit farther ahead than where D.A. is right now. Those guys were pretty polished when they got in the league,” Scott said. “There wasn’t a whole lot I had to do with them besides just give them the ball and say, ‘OK, I want you to do this and that and this.’ This kid, I have to start from scratch, pretty much. I still think he’s going to be a pretty damn good player.”

Not surprisingly, Scott wants Russell to improve his defense.

“He’s still got to do a much better job. That’s not just him. That’s all our guys, but it kind of starts with the guards,” Scott said.

Bryant knows

Question: How often does Scott tell Bryant to take better shots?

Answer: Undetermined.

Scott was asked about it the day after Bryant made only seven of 26 shots against Philadelphia, including 17 three-pointers.

“Most of the time after watching the tape, and he’ll even say it before sometimes: ‘Man, I took some crazy shots,’” Scott said. “After that, you really don’t have to say anything much because he already knows it.”

They have good communication on the recent tightness Bryant’s been feeling in his legs during games.

“He’ll tell me, ‘I just don’t have legs’ and then I’ve got to just pretty much get him out of there as soon as possible and hope that he can get them back somehow in the next five, 10 minutes,” Scott said. “Or if not, just wait for the next game.”

Swaggy DNP

Nick Young did not play Wednesday, his first healthy scratch of the season.

Two games ago, he scored 22 points against Indiana but followed it up with only four against Philadelphia.

“No reason, I just went with a different rotation,” Scott said.

Bryant and Metta World Peace were the only two Lakers to log time at small forward against Washington.

Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan