The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Brooklyn Nets 107-101 to snap an eight-game losing streak in a career night for rookie D'Angelo Russell.
The 20-year-old finished with 39 points, six rebounds and three assists in a stellar performance that featured eight three-pointers on 12 long-range attempts. On the night, no other Laker managed even half as many points as the Lakers' standout rookie. Brooklyn's Brook Lopez scored 23 points in the losing effort, and the Nets' center would finish as the only player to match even half of Russell's output for the game.
On this night, LA's no. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft looked like the no. 1 player on the court by a significant margin.
Beyond simply putting up big numbers, Russell did his most impressive work with the game on the line. The rookie scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and tilted the scales with the game hanging in the balance. In the final minute of Tuesday's game, Russell hit a clutch 25-foot three-pointer to give LA a six-point lead. The Brooklyn Nets answering back immediately with a trey of their own to cut the game to a single possession once again.
The former Ohio State Buckeye, however, did not buckle under the pressure. This time, Russell shot and made a deep 27-foot jump shot with 30 seconds on the game clock. Again, he put the Lakers up by six, as he pointed to his forearm and mouthed "I've got ice in my veins."
After the game, Russell explained the celebration by stating that he "was running out of celebrations." To cap off his special night, the rookie would go to the free throw line and hit a couple free throws in the final second of the game and notch one of the greatest performances by a Lakers' rookie. Russell's scoring output was the highest point total by a Lakers' rookie since Elgin Baylor in 1959.
"Tonight was just my night, and it shows what we're capable of," Russell said after the game, as the rookie made sure to credit his teammates teammates and coaches.
"He's growing, he has some confidence and he's feeling a little bit more comfortable in the system," Lakers coach Byron Scott said about his rookie point guard after the game.
Teammate Julius Randle also sang the guard's praises, "He was amazing. He made some huge shots down the stretch."
Randle had another standout night of his own, as the second-year power forward notched his 25th double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds, which leads the team and ranks 15th in the NBA, over all.
With the victory, the Lakers improved to 12-49 on the season. Kobe Bryant, who sat out Tuesday's game with a sore right shoulder, expects to return to the lineup for Wednesday's game in Denver.
Quotes via TWC SportsNet
Notes: Russell, Baylor and Vern Mikkelsen are the only three rookies in Lakers' history to reach 39 points. Russell's eight three-pointers were also a career-high and a new Lakers' rookie record. Russell shot 14-21 overall from the field.