Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell trying to turn criticism into motivation

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell trying to turn criticism into motivation

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) tries to drive around Mavericks guard J.J. Barea during the second half of a game on Jan. 26.

(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

After a poor performance in the Lakers’ loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, rookie guard D’Angelo Russell called himself out for “lackadaisical” play.

Both Russell and the Lakers were more competitive on Friday, visiting the Clippers, but 18 turnovers doomed the team to their ninth straight loss.

The 19-year old rookie said he’s trying to turn the negatives into positives.

“Any time anybody says something bad about me, that means I’ve got to work. If they say I’m not living up to what my potential is, I’ve go to work -- and that’s every day,” said Russell. “LeBron [James] still gets criticism .... You’ve still got to do something better.”

Is he talking to fans or checking with the media? Who specifically is getting to Russell?

“My family is my biggest critic. My boys that I keep in my circle, my brothers that live with me -- they’re my biggest critics,” he said.  “They’re the first ones to tell me, ‘You stunk it up tonight,’ or, ‘That kid made you fall.”

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Throughout the season, Russell has been relatively guarded in his conversations with the media. More recently, he’s begun to open up about his motivation, and struggles as a rookie.

“When I play, I’m playing for myself and I’m playing for my family too,” said Russell. 

He said he was thankful that Lakers Coach Byron Scott even let him off the bench Friday, given how poorly he played on Thursday.

“I didn’t deserve to be out there,” said Russell. “Coach gave me the opportunity and he didn’t hold a grudge on me going into tonight’s game -- I appreciate that.”

Against the Bulls, Russell scored as many points (three) as turnovers, along with four assists. On Friday he scored eight, with five assists and two turnovers.

The numbers aren’t close to what he expects of himself.

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“I know what I’m capable of, so when I don’t perform that way, I’m always hard on myself,” he said.

How does he need to improve?

“Don’t take plays off on the defensive end, and on the offensive end don’t be nonchalant. No player in this league -- they might be really, really good and they look like they’re playing nonchalant, but they’re not,” said Russell. “Me, at this point, I tend to be nonchalant at times -- just getting it out of my system.”

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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