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Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young are getting closer to return

Lakers Coach Luke Walton says D'Angelo Russell, shown during an Oct. 21 game against Phoenix, is "a big part of what we do and we're not going to rush him at all."
(Harry How / Getty Images)

While the rest of their teammates went five on five against their coaches, D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young went through shooting drills on the other end of the Lakers’ practice court.

The team’s starting backcourt is getting closer to its return, but neither player has returned to contact drills yet. They both participated in the non-contact portions of Thursday’s practice.

“I mean, I feel good,” Russell said. “I waited so long to get back on the court until I was 100%. I feel great. Just about, I don’t know, knocking the dust off before I get … in the game, so try to get it out now, knock the rust off while I’m out here now.”

Russell had a platelet-rich plasma injection on Nov. 23 to help the soreness in his left knee. The Lakers said he would be sidelined for at least two weeks. He did off-court rehab work until Tuesday, when a doctor examined him and agreed he was ready for on-court work.

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Russell, who did not travel with the Lakers to Houston, is out for Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, as are Young (right calf strain), point guard Jose Calderon (right hamstring strain) and center Tarik Black (sprained right ankle).

Before they return to play, they’ll need to go through a practice, if the schedule allows, or at least a three-on-three drill, Coach Luke Walton said.

While neither the Lakers nor Russell want to rush his return, Russell is itching to return to the Lakers’ lineup.

“When you get back out there you gotta make your presence known,” he said. “Hopefully when I come back I can bring the energy back. I’m not saying we’re dead or anything as far as energy-wise, but I definitely want to kick it up a notch.”

In the meantime, he’s cured his boredom with his two dogs.

“I have dogs that I play with,” Russell said. “They take up all of my time.”

Film study

Given the Lakers’ light numbers, Walton knew Thursday’s practice would have to be a little bit shorter. So he spent extra time going over film with the team from Wednesday night’s 134-95 loss to the Houston Rockets.

“We took advantage of a teaching segment in there,” Walton said. “We’ll be fine. The guys have been good all year. There’s been a little bit of slippage but that happens on every team throughout a year at different parts. We’re confident we’ll clean that up.”

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Walton kept practice light, with a focus on locking in on fundamentals. He wanted to avoid too much negativity during a stretch when the Lakers have lost four consecutive games.

“I thought it was important today that we don’t get too down,” Walton said. “Obviously we want to get angry about the way we played and the loss we had but it’s a long season. We can’t start getting depressed and hanging our head and not having fun already.”

Etc.

Walton said Black told him the swelling in his ankle has decreased and he feels much better. Black has been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Suns. … Wednesday’s game in Houston was Lakers forward Julius Randle’s eighth career game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. … The Lakers have now had nine different starting lineups that have included 12 different players.

UP NEXT

LAKERS VS. PHOENIX SUNS

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When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: ESPN; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 10-14, Suns 6-16.

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Record vs. Suns: 1-0.

Update: The Lakers get a respite from what’s been a tough schedule in facing the team with the NBA’s third-worst record. Like the Lakers, Phoenix is young, with two starters 20 years old or younger in Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss. They’ve struggled on the road, going 3-10 so far this season. The Lakers will be without starting shooting guard Nick Young, starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, backup center Tarik Black and backup point guard Jose Calderon, who was starting in place of Russell before his injury.


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