Quiet and fast, all at the same time.
This is how D’Angelo Russell can move with the basketball in his hands, deftly negotiating defenses with patience before launching himself where he wants to go.
It’s tricky speed, things happen faster than you expect.
Here’s how things played out in Russell’s comeback: quick, devastating streaks that abruptly shifted the game in a different direction.
Russell was in the midst of the biggest scoring runs, hitting transition 3s and dishing out assists as the game swung wildly in the Lakers’ favor in the second and fourth quarters.
He made five 3-pointers and scored 28 points to lead the Lakers to a 122-112 victory in a game they trailed by at least 12 in each half.
Five Lakers scored in double figures, the team withstood big games with Scottie Barnes’ 32 points and OG Anunoby’s 31 points.
Davis took just seven shots and scored just eight points, hitting a jumper with 46.6 seconds remaining to seal the Lakers’ third straight win.
The Lakers made all 19 of their free throws, but it was Russell’s return that got them going.
“His size, his skill set, his brains,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham responded when asked what Russell brings to the court. “I just think he’s a very talented and intelligent basketball player and you have to take that into account. He’s also a smart defensive player, so he’s just another additional piece that we’re really excited about, and people got a taste of what he brings early on. Coming out of injury is a great time with LeBron’s circumstances. But we’re looking forward to that big addition and hopefully he’ll be a bit of a spark plug for us.”
After a slow start with the Lakers quickly falling by 15 points, Russell led the Lakers on a 21-5 run in the second quarter, showing why the team valued him at the trade deadline.
His return also energized Dennis Schroder, who came to the bench and was able to give more while less was asked of him, another midfielder and ball handler on the pitch.
Without Russell, Schroder’s offense took a beating, the wear and tear of running the offense visibly wearing on him. But on Friday, he played with more pace and burst, something Ham said before the game that he expected to see.
“It’s tough when you’re the only traditional point guard in the lineup,” Ham said. “Having (Russell) come out and Dennis being able to see that initial wave and automatically know when he comes into the game what we need to do, what needs to be fixed or what needs to be maintained, that’s definitely a nice luxury to have with DLo now he’s on. back in the lineup. Just that one-two punch. So when he sits down we have another orchestrator to come in and keep us organized and set a tone.”
Schroder was the fastest to turn over the ball, making four steals and scoring 23.
And with the Lakers’ offense stuck in neutral against the size and strength of Toronto in the third, Austin Reaves kept them close enough. He fired up the crowd later in the half, driving across the middle of the court for a two-handed strike. He finished with 18 points.