LOS ANGELES—“With the number two pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select D’Angelo Russell, guard, Ohio State.” Since those words were uttered from the mouth of NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, Laker fans have had little to cheer about in their future star. That is, until Tuesday night.
The Lakers squared off against the Brooklyn Nets in Los Angeles at the Staples Center with future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant sitting out with a sore shoulder.
The stage was set for Russell to show what the Lakers saw in drafting him with a second overall pick, and he did not disappoint.
Russell exploded for 39-points shooting 14-of-21 from the field, and set the season rookie leading mark for most triples made in a game, knocking down eight shots from beyond the arc. He led all Lakers scorers in a 107-101 victory over the Nets.
“It was just my night,” said Russell. “And it worked out great for me.”
Russell began the game with only five points in the first quarter, but then caught fire once he found his stroke, converting many dagger 3-pointers on the fast break.
With under one minute remaining, the Lakers led 97-94. Russell pulled up for three from the left wing and saw it go through the twine. On the next possession, he converted a straightaway three from 27 feet, sealing the deal for Los Angeles.
The 39-point performance made him the first Laker rookie to score that many points in the Los Angeles era, and only Elgin Baylor (twice) and Vern Mikkelsen have scored more for the franchise in their first year.
“If I could get to half of the success that they’ve gotten, it would be a pleasure just to be in the category with those guys,” said Russell. “I don’t play for those records, statistics. I just play, and whatever happens happens.”
Laker fans hope that this flash of brilliance can be replicated for many years to come.