After the Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals to the Denver Nuggets on May 20, Darvin Ham was asked to talk about D’Angelo Russell, who had an awful game.
Ham said he liked the looks Russell got and that the lefty “has to remain aggressive.”
“All good looks,” Ham said. “All good looks. He just has to remain aggressive. All good looks.”
Russell scored just three points in Game 3 while shooting 1-of-8 from the field and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Ohio State product turned the ball over three times and finished with a plus-minus of -12 in 20 minutes.
The Lakers lost Game 3 by a final score of 119-108. They trail the best-of-seven series 3-0. Game 4 is on Monday, May 22. Los Angeles has to win to keep its season alive.
D’Angelo Russell Has Struggled Against the Nuggets
Russell has really struggled against the Nuggets. The one-time All-Star is averaging 7.0 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 29.6% from the floor and 14.3% from 3-point range.
Once this offseason hits, Russell will become an unrestricted free agent. The 27-year-old played so well in the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs that it was widely assumed in league circles the Lakers would re-sign D’Lo.
However, since Russell has played so poorly in the conference finals, many people believe Los Angeles should look for another point guard, perhaps someone like Kyrie Irving, who has a strong rapport with LeBron James.
“Kyrie Irving is a natural target for the Lakers even though The Athletic’s Tim Cato reported they’re ‘uninterested’ in pursuing him this offseason,” Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report wrote on May 18. “The Lakers valued Irving enough to offer two future first-round picks (the most they could trade) to the Brooklyn Nets before the mercurial guard was sent to the Mavericks. When Irving went elsewhere, James didn’t hide his disappointment. That surprised absolutely no one, since the pair previously led a championship run together on the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
Darvin Ham: ‘We Just Have to Focus on Winning One Game’
No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the playoffs. However, Ham is still confident in his group.
“Absolutely. I mean, the deficit is 3-0, not 4,” Ham said. “So as long as they have not gotten to four yet, there’s still hope. We’re still alive. We just have to focus on winning one game. … It’s difficult because a lot of it, you know, against the really, really good teams, and we are a really, really good team. And I’ve seen how our defense has put people in awkward positions, and it caused them to self-destruct at times, whether it was finishing up the regular season or in these playoffs.
“And you know, the defenses, once you get to this point, Conference Finals, Finals, the defense gets dialed up that much more. So you can’t have self-inflicted wounds, whether it’s turnovers, whether it’s giving up offensive rebounds, silly fouls that help them get to the bonus quicker. I just think those things, you’ve got to be extremely, extremely disciplined.”