Denver Nuggets guard takes shot at D’Angelo Russell’s defense ahead of Game 2 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

In the opinion of Denver Nuggets guard Bruce Brown, his team strategically focused on guard D’Angelo Russell during the Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

The Nuggets hung on for a 132-126 win over the Lakers in Game 1 after first jumping out to a 72-54 lead at the end of the first half.

A look at the final box score from that contest shows that the Lakers, including Russell, had problems keeping the Nuggets’ starting backcourt in check all night. The duo of Jamal Murray and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined to score 52 points, including seven 3-pointers.

Russell’s woes on the defensive side were magnified by his struggles to produce on the offensive side of the ball. In just over 26 minutes of action Tuesday night, Russell contributed only eight points and connected on just four of his 11 field-goal attempts.

Of course, the inability of the Lakers to keep Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in check also played a major role in the loss. The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player finished the evening with a triple-double of 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists.

Prior to Tuesday night, Russell’s return to the Lakers in February had been a positive part of the team’s surge into the postseason. Now, Russell could conceivably be seen as an option off the team’s bench.

After playing the first two seasons of his career with the Lakers from 2015 to 2017, Russell spent time with three other franchises before being brought back in a multi-team deal.

In his 17 regular season games with the Lakers this season, Russell averaged 17.4 points, 6.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. Russell’s postseason numbers in this year’s playoffs have been slightly under those averages, though the Lakers still managed to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors.

Every NBA player suffers a bad night from time to time, though the Lakers have to hope that Russell avoids a repeat of Tuesday night’s performance. That could put the team in a challenging position of trying to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the series.

The 27-year-old Russell is in the final year of his contract and is hoping to garner a huge new deal during the offseason. While he should be well compensated wherever he lands, Russell’s defensive performance during the remainder of the playoffs may determine just how much he ends up making.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.