D’Angelo Russell will return to reserve role with Lakers despite his recent progress
Although D’Angelo Russell showed noticeable progress when he returned to the starting lineup the last two games, the Lakers’ rookie point guard will be back on the bench Tuesday night.
It’s not punishment, Coach Byron Scott said, it’s just that second-year guard Jordan Clarkson was able to practice Monday after missing two games because of a sprained right ankle and is healthy enough to play Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center.
Scott made a dramatic change to his starting lineup four games ago, making Russell and Julius Randle reserves and starting Lou Williams and Larry Nance Jr. in their places during the team’s eight-game trip.
Scott said he will start Clarkson and Williams again in the backcourt together and start Nance at power forward.
“I don’t know if it’ll bother him [Russell] or not, but he’s 19 years old, so it probably will,” Scott said, with a laugh, after practice. “But I’m going to tell him, ‘Listen, the last couple of games you played really well and even the game before that you played really well when that starting lineup was Jordan and Lou.’ But then Jordan got hurt so obviously he gets a lot more time.
“It hasn’t changed. I’m still going to go back to the [previous] starting lineup . . . and see how he reacts. And I hope that he’ll come out and play the same way he’s been playing.”
Russell took giant steps in his last two starts. He averaged 18 points, five assists, three rebounds and 2.5 steals in games against San Antonio and Houston.
Russell actually started to take positive steps in his first game coming off the bench, scoring a career-high 23 points at Minnesota, and then following that up with 24 at San Antonio when starting in place of the injured Clarkson.
When Scott made the changes to his starting lineup, the plan was to see how it worked for about 10 games.
He said nothing had changed — except for the improved play by Russell.
“I thought D’Angelo started coming of age a little bit,” Scott said.
“I thought he played with a lot more confidence. His command of the offense was much better. His turnovers were a little bit lower. It’s something that he’s still got to continue to work on. But I like what I saw on this road trip. So again, I think his development is coming, slowly but surely. That’s something that I thought was very positive.”
LAKERS VS. MILWAUKEE BUCKS
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. PST.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 3-21, Bucks 10-15.
Record vs. Bucks (2014-15): 1-1.
Update: The Bucks on Saturday snapped Golden State’s 24-game winning streak to start the season and 28-game regular-season winning streak dating to last season. Now the Bucks will try to stop their own streak of having lost nine consecutive road games. Milwaukee has talented young players in center Greg Monroe (averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds) and forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo (15.7, 6.6) and Jabari Parker (10.6, 4.4).
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