D’Angelo Russell and Damian Lillard aren’t on the best of terms.
Twice the point guards have faced off in the last seven days, and both times Lillard and the Trail Blazers have walked away with wins over a very talented but young Lakers squad with a penchant for short-circuiting in the second half.
Emotions came to a head at the Staples Center on Tuesday night after Russell fouled Lillard on his way to the basket in the third quarter of Portland’s 108-87 win over Los Angeles.
After initially refusing to speak on the incident, Russell took a sideways approach to Lillard’s comments about his play after the kerfuffle.
Per ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, Russell was asked about the “extra gear” guys like Lillard and Golden State’s Stephen Curry can engage in late-game situations, or, say, after feeling like they’ve been slighted by a 20-year-old.
Russell’s response: D’Angelo Russell has that gear, but doesn’t know if those guys do.
“I don’t know,” Russell said. “I have it. I don’t know about them.”
He also said Lillard’s extra gear, or whatever, wasn’t exactly an incendiary revelation or change-of-pace—he was just shooting more.
“[Lillard] just shot the ball more,” Russell said. “We didn’t clean up rebounds. The ball bounced to him, he shot it, made shots. Got to the free throw line. The same thing he was trying to do the whole game.”
Russell also seemed disappointed in the team’s reaction after the non-dustup.
“I think we ran away from everything we did. After the [incident], we just deferred. We didn’t throw any punches and go forward and compete more. We turned down a little bit.”
Moving past the Curry/Lillard sour apples, Russell makes some not-wrong points here.
Lillard did shoot more after The Incident, but he didn’t exactly blow up the game, going 7-for-21 from the floor (albeit with eight rebounds and a healthy six assists). Moreover, the Lakers did turn down as the game went on, which is a bad thing to do in a basketball game.