Russell Westbrook's brother relishes D'Angelo Russell's poor performance vs. Mavs - Lakers Daily Russell Westbrook's brother relishes D'Angelo Russell's poor performance vs. Mavs - Lakers Daily

Russell Westbrook’s brother relishes D’Angelo Russell’s poor performance vs. Mavs

D'Angelo Russell Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have lost two games in a row after Friday’s cruel last-second loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and although they still have a real shot at making the playoffs, their chances of doing so are diminishing.

Point guard D’Angelo Russell has had three poor shooting games in a row, and the brother of former Laker Russell Westbrook is enjoying his struggles.

Westbrook, of course, was traded in February for Russell, forward Jarred Vanderbilt and guard Malik Beasley, and it was a trade that may end up salvaging the Lakers’ season. That deal has infused the team with the type of depth and balance it hasn’t had in two seasons.

Until L.A.’s last two losses, it had been playing rather well since Russell, Vanderbilt and Beasley debuted. Its strong play seemed all the more impressive considering that LeBron James has been out of action for most of that span, and Russell himself missed several games with a sprained ankle.

Friday presented the team with an outstanding opportunity to continue rising in the Western Conference standings and get closer to its goal of finishing with the sixth seed.

Instead, a couple of ill-advised defensive decisions by Anthony Davis resulted in a blown four-point lead in the final seconds and its 37th loss of the season.

The Lakers are still in 10th place in the West and are just two games behind the Mavs, who have the sixth spot, but the Purple and Gold are perilously close to dropping out of the play-in tournament picture.

The team does have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, which includes mostly home games, but it has little, if any, margin of error moving forward.

Los Angeles will have to shake off Friday’s rough loss and realize it still has the opportunity to reach the postseason. If it does so, and James returns sooner than later, perhaps anything will be possible for it this spring.