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Lakers Coach Luke Walton wants D’Angelo Russell to keep shooting despite recent slump

Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell reacts to a play during the first half of the game against the Clippers on Jan. 14.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Even when he hasn’t shot well, D’Angelo Russell’s overall play has impressed Lakers Coach Luke Walton this month.

That changed a little bit on Saturday in the Lakers’ 113-97 loss to the Clippers.

“I told him he’s been magnificent for us this whole month,” Walton said. “Tonight I didn’t think he had that same bounce in his step. … We need him to be more aggressive and be the player that we all know he is, that he’s capable of being. We’ve seen it for most of this month.”

Walton’s public evaluation of Russell hasn’t depended on how well he shoots. But there has been a distinct shift in his numbers lately, especially in his three-point accuracy.

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Through Jan. 8, Russell was shooting 47% from the field and had made 40% of his three-point attempts. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and five assists in the first five games this month and had a plus/minus of 5.6.

But this week his shooting declined significantly. In the last three games, Russell has shot 26.5% from the field and made only one of 11 three-point tries. Going back a little further, Russell has made only four of 28 three-point shots in the last six games.

“Teams scout,” Russell said. “They’re going to take away what you do. The opportunities that you get at the beginning of the season aren’t the same as the second half of the season. That’s where you becoming a basketball player has to be better. Back doors. Forcing us to do other things. Us being a young group of guys, we’ve gotta capitalize off each other, lead each other. Read the back-door plays. Read the defensive assignments.”

On Saturday, Russell attempted only one three-pointer.

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“I want him shooting it,” Walton said. “One hundred percent. If it’s a good shot, if his defender goes under him, I want him shooting those threes. I want him being aggressive. I’d rather him err on the side of being aggressive than being too cautious at this point. He knows that.”

Zubac double duty

Second-round draft pick Ivica Zubac gets most of his playing time with the Lakers’ Development League affiliate, the D-Fenders.

On Saturday he got a taste of two basketball worlds.

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Zubac played 2 minutes 33 seconds against the Clippers, making his only shot attempt. After the game, the Lakers assigned him to the D-Fenders, who played Saturday night.

Two Lakers of the past have done double duty on the same day — Jordan Farmar and current D-Fenders Coach Coby Karl. Each played for both teams on the same day one time.

Etc.

Veteran forward Luol Deng did not play Saturday as the team opted to rest him for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons. … With Deng out of the lineup, the Lakers started Nick Young, Julius Randle, Timofey Mozgov, Lou Williams and Russell. It was Williams’ first start of the season and he is the 13th different Laker to start a game. The Lakers have used 14 different lineups.

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UP NEXT

VS. PISTONS

When: 6:30 p.m., Sunday.

Where: Staples Center.

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

Records: Lakers 15-29; Pistons 18-24.

Record vs. Detroit (2015-16): 1-1.

Update: Detroit has gone 4-6 in their last 10 games. They rank 24th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 99.7 points per game.

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tania.ganguli@latimes.com

@taniaganguli


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