Los Angeles Times
Russell eager for return after his injury
He’ll be back Friday against Toronto, hoping to build on hot start with Lakers.
After going through a full practice Thursday, D’Angelo Russell will be available to play for the Lakers on Friday against the Toronto Raptors at Crypto.com Arena after sitting out the last six games because of a sprained right ankle.
Russell said he was “good” and “ready” after sitting out the last two weeks to let his ankle heal.
“Took some time off, unfortunately, but ready to get back out there and contribute,” he said.
Russell was injured Feb. 23 against the Golden State Warriors in a freak accident.
While taking the ball out of bounds after a Warriors basket, Russell stepped back and onto the foot of Golden State’s Donte DiVincenzo. Russell said he didn’t think he would be out so long.
“I just thought I rolled my ankle and I’d be back,” Russell said. “But obviously, everybody’s body is different and I need a little longer to get right.”
In his four games with the Lakers since being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Russell averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 assists.
He shot 44.2% from the field, 35.3% from three-point range.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said the team missed Russell’s ability to stretch the floor with outside shooting and his ability to run the offense.
“I mean, just his shooting, man. You can never have enough shooters,” Ham said. “And he’s a highlevel thinker, IQ basketball-wise, just his moxie, his ability to control tempo, understand momentum, understand the different strike zones, who has the hot hand. Like all of it. He’s an All-Star, so it’s everything that comes with that. It’ll be good to have that back out there out on the f loor in our behalf.”
Ham said he and his medical staff would discuss how many minutes Russell would be able to play against the Raptors.
Ham said Russell will start and that Dennis Schroder will return to his role as a spark plug off the bench.
“Dennis will come off,” Ham said. “Again, like I say, I know starting is a big deal to a lot of people, but at the end of the day, finishing lineup is probably a little bit 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 was injured.
“Just passion. I think everybody is playing with passion,” Russell said. “I guess since the trade, I’ve kind of felt that and it never let off. I think everybody is kind of contributing in their own way. Everybody is locked into the goal and everybody is well aware of it. It’s not flying under the radar what we’re trying to get done.”