After going through a full practice on Thursday, D’Angelo Russell will be available to play for the Lakers on Friday against the Toronto Raptors at Crypto.com Arena after missing the last six games due to a sprained right ankle.
Russell said he was “fine” and “ready” after sitting out the last two weeks to let his ankle heal.
“Unfortunately, I took some time off, but I’m ready to come back and contribute,” he said.
Russell was injured on February 23 against the Golden State Warriors in a freak accident.
While carrying the ball out of bounds after a Warriors layup, Russell stepped back and placed himself on the foot of Golden State’s Donte DiVincenzo.
Russell said he didn’t think he’d be gone that long.
“I thought I sprained my ankle and it would come back,” Russell said. “But obviously everyone’s body is different and I need a little more time to get it right.”
In his four games with the Lakers since being acquired from the minnesota timber wolvesRussell averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 assists.
He shot 44.2% from the field, 35.3% from the three-point line.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said the team missed Russell’s ability to stretch the court with outside shots and his ability to run the offense.
“I mean, just his shots, man. You can never have enough shooters,” Ham said. “And he’s a big thinker, basketball IQ, just his moxie, his ability to control the tempo, understand momentum, understand different strike zones, who’s got a hot hand. Like everything. He’s an All-Star, so that’s all that comes with it. It will be nice to have that back in the ground on our behalf.”
Ham said he and his medical staff would discuss how many minutes Russell could play against the Raptors.
Ham said Russell will start and Dennis Schroder will return to his role as spark plug from the bench.
“Dennis will be out,” Ham said. “Again, like I say, I know starting is a big deal for a lot of people, but at the end of the day the final lineup is probably a little more important and Dennis will definitely be in the mix.”
The Lakers are 5-2 since the All-Star break and 4-2 since Russell got hurt.
“Just passion. I think everyone is playing with passion,” Russell said. “I guess since the trade, I’ve felt that and it never went away. I think everyone is contributing in their own way. Everyone is locked into the goal and everyone is well aware of it. What we are trying to do is not going unnoticed.”