NBA Teams
Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer 14d

Young Lakers expect Russell to try to drop 30 in his revenge game

NBA, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers

PORTLAND -- Jordan Clarkson fully expects a highly charged D'Angelo Russell to come into the Staples Center trying to prove that the Los Angeles Lakers and Magic Johnson were wrong for trading him.

"Oh, he's going to be fired up," the Lakers guard said of his former teammate. "S---, he'll try to go for 30? 40? I don't know how many shots he's gonna put up. He's gonna come in here, he's gonna try to get a win for sure. He's definitely going to put them up."

As if it wasn't bad enough losing 113-110 in Portland on an incredible 3-point shot by Damian Lillard on Thursday night, the Lakers now brace for Russell. The team's 2015 No. 2 overall pick returns to Los Angeles on Friday to face the Lakers for the first time since being dealt with Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick, which the Lakers used to take rookie Kyle Kuzma.

Johnson, the Lakers president, said a couple of times after the team drafted Lonzo Ball that he needed more leadership -- and got it in Ball.

While Russell opted not to say anything in response or take any shots at his former team, many of the Lakers know their former teammate is well aware of what was said and will be "extremely fired up," as Lakers forward Julius Randle put it. And the Lakers all expect Russell to get plenty of shots up, with the Nets averaging 114.6 points per game -- third highest in the NBA at the quickest pace.

"Hell, yeah," Clarkson said. "He probably ain't gonna state it [how he knows about the leadership comment] but that's D-Lo. He'll keep it under him, and when he comes out on the court, he's going to try to put on."

Russell certainly looks motivated to start the season, scoring 29 or more points three times this season and averaging 21.7 points, 5.0 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 46.6 percent shooting. He has led the Nets to three wins so far. The Nets won a total of 20 games last season.

Russell's maturity and leadership came into question after his video incident, when he recorded a private conversation that created a rift with then-teammate Nick Young back in 2016.

"I mean, what happened is what happened," Clarkson said. "Feel like, sooner or later, people gonna put it behind him. But it is what it is. It'll wash away sooner or later."

Lopez will be facing the only team he's known in the NBA for the first time as well. After spending his first nine seasons with the Nets, Lopez will play against the franchise for the first time.

"It really is like any other game," Lopez said. "That is the way I am. ... I am sure it will be weird, but I always try to prepare for every game the same way, keep as many things normal and keep the variables down as much as possible."

The Lakers have noticed how Russell has played so far. Clarkson said he has spoken to Russell and that the former Laker is happy in Brooklyn.

"He feels amazing," Clarkson said. "Playing well, putting up numbers. Won some games for them. He's feeling good. I feel like he got a new home. He's doing what he's supposed to do.

"The fit for him, I feel like it's perfect in that offense to do what he does," Clarkson said of the Nets' high-paced offense. "Being a scoring guard, he knows how to make play."

Randle, who also spoke to Russell, said the guard is "excited" about his new team.

"He kind of got a fresh start," Randle said. "He still was in a major city in Brooklyn, New York. He's obviously doing very well.

"[Russell will be] extremely fired up," Randle added. "Who wouldn't be?"

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