Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott wants the ball to be in D’Angelo Russell’s hands a lot more. Having it go in the basket would also help.
Russell is expected to take charge at the point while Kobe Bryant looks to improve his rusty scoring touch as the Lakers visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
Los Angeles fell 112-111 to visiting Minnesota after Lou Williams missed a 4-foot runner at the buzzer in Wednesday’s opener.
The Lakers, however, came away more worried about Russell’s involvement. The rookie guard finished with four points, three rebounds and two assists, finding himself moved off the point in favor of the quicker and more aggressive Jordan Clarkson.
Scott plans to have Russell run the team a lot more against Sacramento.
"I really just wanted to up the tempo with Jordan pushing," Scott told the Lakers’ official website. "(Russell is) probably a little bit better of a decision-maker, even at 19 years old and being in his rookie year. So we want him on the ball right now, and then we go to either side and we’ve got Kobe or Jordan."
Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points. However, he made 8 of 24 from the floor – 3 of 13 from 3-point range – while missing his final eight shots in his return from a torn rotator cuff that kept him out since January.
"That timing will come back," said Bryant, who averaged 31.0 points over his last 14 meetings with the Kings.
He’s not the only one trying to improve from the field as the Lakers shot 37.6 percent – 9 for 35 from beyond the arc – against the Timberwolves.
Julius Randle, though, gave Los Angeles reason for optimism. The forward had 15 points and 11 rebounds, exactly one year after a broken leg in his NBA debut ended his season.
The Lakers, who dropped their first five games of 2014-15, are trying to avoid losing four straight to the Kings for the first time since 1993-94.
The Kings fell 111-104 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in the opener of their final season at Sleep Train Arena.
Bouncing back will require doing a better job protecting the ball. Sacramento had 18 turnovers with 12 coming in the first half.
"At first we played terrible," said center DeMarcus Cousins, who had eight turnovers – one shy of his career high. "The turnovers killed us, especially on my end. We could have done a better job sharing the ball. But that being said, we had a great chance of winning the ballgame."
Cousins, however, made his presence felt with 32 points and 13 rebounds. He also showed some stunning shooting range, sinking 4 of 5 from behind the arc after going 11 for 69 in his first 350 games.
"I’m just building confidence behind it," Cousins said. "I think it will help the team spread the floor."
Sacramento has won six of the last eight meetings at home while averaging 105.1 points and shooting 48.2 percent.