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Lakers unsure of D’Angelo Russell’s status for game against Thunder

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, second from left, Jordan Clarkson (6) and Larry Nance Jr. (7) join their teammates in celebrating in the closing moments of a 101-91 win over the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 10.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell did not practice Monday because of a sore left knee.

Coach Luke Walton said Russell reported his knee felt the same as it did Sunday, when he played 22 minutes in the Lakers’ 118-110 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers kept him out of practice as a precaution.

Russell is expected to be listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

On Sunday, Russell made three of 11 shots, and nine of those attempts were three-pointers. He also had seven assists and three rebounds. He admitted after the game that he was cautious because of the knee.

“He’s really good at finishing that midrange jump shot and getting into the post and scoring out of the post,” Walton said. “[Last night] it looked like he was more OK with just shooting perimeter jump shots. We want him to push. Push and be aggressive. You can’t play at this level by [being cautious] — if that’s the case because it hurts then we need to shut him down until he gets healthy.”

Walton said he didn’t know whether Russell’s hesitation on Sunday was mental or physical.

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Larry the rocket

Larry Nance Jr.’s penchant for high-flying dunks inspires friendly competition with center Tarik Black, who, like Nance, is part of the Lakers second unit.

“Honestly he jumps so fast, a lot of times I’m paying attention like trying to get the rebound myself and I just look up and I see him jumping up and it’s like, ‘OK,’ ” Black said. “If you pay attention, a lot of times I just start running back. Like I just see him and I start seeing him take off and I just run back and watch it happen. Man, it’s fun.”

Nance used his leaping ability and awareness to contribute six dunks against the Bulls. They accounted for all but two of his made shots and helped Nance reach a career-high 18 points. Two were tip-dunks after Nance grabbed an offensive rebound.

“You have to box one of us out,” Black said. “. . . So if I’m being crowded on one side, or someone else is there, I’m getting the offensive rebounds that night, he’s going to have a free run to the rim. Same is vice versa. They know that he’s a freakin’ rocket and that he can take off at any point.”

Black grabbed three offensive rebounds and six overall against the Bulls.

And while Nance’s dunks were impressive, after a game in which the Lakers were out rebounded by 19 and allowed their opponent 60 points in the paint, the second-year forward stressed the need for change.

“Our interior defense is something that we’ve obviously got to get better,” Nance said. “Whether that [means] I can take more of a shot-blocking role or Tarik can, I can keep guys out of the middle more. Obviously we’ll go back to the drawing board and figure it out.”

Added Black: “Better help side [defense], that’s a lot of times where our shot blocks are going to come. I’m playing against guys who are seven feet, so me personally blocking a guy’s shot when he’s shooting a hook at seven foot, it’s probably not going to happen. So more than likely he’s talking about on the rotation, just being there in help side, going to clean up the glass, especially with our athleticism.”

UP NEXT

LAKERS VS. OKLAHOMA CITY

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. PST.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 7-7; Thunder 8-6

Record vs. Thunder: 0-1

Update: This is the Lakers’ first repeat opponent of the season. The teams first met in Oklahoma City on Oct. 30, and the Lakers fell victim to a Russell Westbrook triple-double that included 33 points by the former UCLA star. D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle each had 20 points for the Lakers. It was the only game during the Lakers’ season-opening four-game trip that they felt was out of reach for them.

tania.ganguli@latimes.com


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