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Lakers' Russell aims to be '100%' before returning to lineup

Lakers' Russell aims to be '100%' before returning to lineup
Sidelined because of a knee injury, Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell reacts to a referee's call during a game against the Spurs at Staples Center on Nov. 18. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

D'Angelo Russell wore sandals as he casually shot the ball on Saturday afternoon. While the rest of his team went through practice, Russell underwent treatment for an injured left knee that is expected to keep him out for at least another week and a half.

On Wednesday, Russell had a platelet-rich plasma injection to help heal his injury. The minimally invasive procedure can help heal tendon, ligament, cartilage or bone injuries. Since then his rehab has consisted of pool workouts as well as exercises to strengthen his core and glutes.

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"Definitely don't want to force anything back," Russell said. "I feel like I gotta be 100 percent perfect before I step back on the court.

"I was in a lot of pain but I know how to control it, I guess. I knew what not to do. So many games in this league, it's hard to stay healthy when you're injured and you're trying to maintain that focus."

Russell, who had knee surgery while in high school, had an MRI on his knee before the season started. He said he had been dealing with some pain in his knee "on and off" since the beginning of the season but didn't consider it anything serious.

He said he's not sure what caused the pain in his knee that required missing games, beginning with their Nov. 18 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Russell played two days later against the Chicago Bulls, but he was cautious and hesitated to do much inside the perimeter. He has not played since.

"Can't really move the way I want, so when I try to fight it and move —  sharp movements and plant — it aggravated it," Russell said.

The Lakers leave Monday for a road trip that includes four games in five days. Russell plans to go but doesn’t expect to play.

"I'd rather travel and get treatment than sit here and not," Russell said.

Young back at practice

Lakers shooting guard Nick Young participated in all of Saturday’s practice. Lakers Coach Luke Walton said he expects Young to play on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Young sprained the second toe in his left foot against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Nov. 22. Young had treatment in the foot before the Lakers’ Nov. 23 game against the Golden State Warriors, then played in that 149-106 loss. He missed the next game as he could not play through the sprain again.

Forward Julius Randle participated in part of practice Saturday, but was removed because he was "cringing," Walton said. Randle stayed at least 20 minutes after practice ended to shoot with Lakers assistant coach Jesse Mermuys.

Walton said Randle asked to return to practice, but the Lakers would not let him.

"I hope he plays tomorrow but we're not going to rush him," Walton said. "It's not worth … if you can't go out and play the way he plays, which is being that dynamic playmaker, pushing the ball in transition, doing all those things for us, then it's more important than to get him more rest and get him closer to getting back."

UP NEXT

VS. HAWKS

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Staples Center.

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

Records: Lakers 8-9; Hawks 10-6

Record vs. Hawks: 1-0

Update: The last time the Lakers faced the Hawks, Los Angeles was at the end of its first road trip and hadn't won a road game yet. Their surprising victory injected confidence into the young group as they handed Atlanta its first loss of the season. The Hawks have lost four of their last five games, including games against the Knicks, Pelicans, Hornets and Jazz. Atlanta is 4-4 on the road.

Twitter: @taniaganguli

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