The Los Angeles Lakers practiced Monday morning before hopping on a plane to Las Vegas for their next preseason game on Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings. Lakers head coach Byron Scott anticipates having the same starting lineup as Sunday night of Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Anthony Brown and Roy Hibbert. However, Hibbert is currently listed as probable for tomorrow night’s game with a sore right knee.
Though Russell is also officially listed as probable (bruised glute), he will likely be available for tomorrow’s game, but will come off the bench.
Russell had 11 assists in his 18 minutes off the bench last night, with just two turnovers, another solid performance. A lot of talk has been made about Russell’s ability to see when his teammates are open before the players themselves know they are open, and even though this will likely lead to turnovers early on, Scott wants Russell to have that freedom to make those risky passes.
“I think you’ve got to let his instincts kind of take over,” Scott said about Russell after Monday’s practice. “I think guys are starting to realize that when they don’t think they’re open, sometimes he thinks you are and you’ve got to be ready for it. It was the same with Magic, when he came down the court, you made sure that your hands were ready and that you were looking at him, because even if he wasn’t looking at you, he could fire a pass to you. D’Angelo has a lot of that type of instinct in him. I think the guys are learning that when they’re playing with him, to always be ready.”
Scott specifically liked what he saw when Russell was on the court, with veterans like Lou Williams and Nick Young in Sunday’s win over Maccabi Haifa.
“Those guys have some experience and they are used to getting open and he was hitting them (Nick Young and Lou Williams) right on the button where they don’t have to do nothing but shoot it.”
On where Russell can improve, Scott would like him to do a better job of managing the shot clock, learning that he cannot attempt to set up a new play after the first play breaks down. Instead, Scott reminds Russell that he needs to play off his instincts with time ticking, like using a high pick-and-roll to make a quick play.
As a point guard who sees the floor a couple steps ahead of most everyone else, Russell said it’s important for him to positively reinforce his teammates that they’re open, encouraging them to continue running the floor.
“If you just feed them that knowledge to them everyday, they realize it,” Russell said.
The Lakers take on the Kings in Las Vegas on Tuesday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Scott said it’s possible the Lakers make a couple roster cuts by the end of the week, which currently stands at 19 players. Expect to see players like Michael Frazier, Robert Upshaw, Jonanthan Holmes, Jabari Brown and others, fighting for roster spots on Tuesday night.