Show and Prove: Remembering D’Angelo Russell’s Big Game…As a Laker
Remember that one time D’Angelo Russell made NBA history BEFORE being traded to the Brooklyn Nets?
Here’s a reminder, just in case you don’t.
While Russell’s career as a professional baller got off to a rather underwhelming and rocky start prior to going to Brooklyn, his brief time playing for the Los Angeles Lakers should not be completely overlooked. As the No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, he was expected to pan out. That being said, the kid did just that…at least in one way.
In just his second year as a pro, Russell became the youngest player in a Lakers uniform to score 40 points in a regular-season game. At the time, it was a career-high scoring performance. The timing of Russell’s 40-point showing allowed him to beat out other notable Lakers on that specific list, such as Andrew Bynum (second place), Kobe Bryant (third place), and Earvin “Magic” Johnson (fourth place).
While all four players achieved the feat at the age of 21, Russell managed to edge everybody else. He was 62 days younger than Bynum. He was 178 days younger than Bryant. He was 202 days younger than Magic.
Russell’s historic performance took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It was March 19, 2017. The Cleveland Cavaliers were visiting. Although they were at home, the Lakers would lose that game. Russell would also be outscored in that game; opposing player Kyrie Irving finished with 46 points.
The Lakers would go on to finish their regular season with a 26-56 record, missing out on a postseason berth for the fourth-straight year. D-Lo’s playing days in L.A. wouldn’t last much longer either; he was traded away the following summer. But hey, everybody’s got to start somewhere, right?
Now in his fourth season as a pro, Russell is having a breakout campaign. With the Nets, he’s been averaging 18.6 points per game and 6.2 assists per game. In contrast, he only averaged 14.3 points per game and 4.0 assists per game with the Lakers. He was also selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Game for the first time in his career while wearing a Nets uniform, something he failed to accomplish while wearing the purple and gold.
In Brooklyn, Russell’s also had four times as many games in which he’s scored at least 30 points. He’s an ideal candidate for this year’s Most Improved Player award.
Furthermore, Mr. New-And-Improved has even set a new career high in points tallied in a game: 44. He did so in mid-March, eerily around the same time he dropped 40 for the first time two years ago (It was actually the same day: March 19.). This time around, however, Russell and his team WON the game. His 44 points were also a game high; he was not outscored by any of the other players.
Russell is finally starting to capitalize on the potential he once showed as a second-year player. A postseason appearance is one of the next steps for him to take in the NBA. The point guard’s on fire now, figuratively speaking.
“I’m built for this s–t,” Russell exclaimed after scoring 27 of his 44 points in the fourth quarter alone to lead the Nets to a monstrous 28-point comeback victory against the Sacramento Kings.
Hey, as it turns out, he really IS built for this. Talk your talk, D-Lo. We know you can back it up.
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