CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard D'Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup Sunday against the Chicago Bulls after being moved to the bench two and a half months ago.
Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, finished with 15 points and 6 assists in a 126-115 loss to the Bulls at the United Center and will start for the remainder of the season, said Lakers coach Byron Scott.
"It was just time," Scott said when asked why he moved Russell back to the starting lineup, where Russell spent the first 20 games before being moved to the bench in December.
"Each month he has seemed to get better," Scott continued. "He's really starting to understand what this game is all about. He still needs to pick it up at times. Obviously on both ends he needs to continue to work, but I like what I saw [Sunday], and I like what I've been seeing from him over the last couple months."
Russell's playing time -- and lack thereof at times -- has been the biggest hot-button issue surrounding the 11-46 Lakers in what is on pace to be the worst season in franchise history. Scott has often benched Russell in the fourth quarter or, in one instance, pulled him for "trying to take over the game."
"I get this question asked all the time. I don't really care," Russell said of starting versus coming off the bench. "I just want to play the right way. If that's coming off the bench or starting, I just want to make an impact right away. I wish we could've won, just so I could feel better about it. But I trust coach's decision and go with it."
What does Russell hope to accomplish in the final 25 games?
"I just want to get better," Russell said. "Coach always said, you've always got something to play for no matter how many games we've got left. However many games we've got left, I feel like I've still got something to prove.
"And I don't want anybody to take it the wrong way, but you feel like your best players are your starters. And I feel like I'm going to keep the confidence and say that I'm one of the best players, so I feel like I just want to keep proving that I deserve to start, deserve to be out there and play crunch time minutes.
"With these last few games, I want to show that I have to be out there, like build that trust with my coach that he has to put me on the floor."
Russell said being in the starting lineup along with guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Julius Randle will allow the trio of promising young players to build even more chemistry together.
"We can grow. We can play a lot tighter," Russell said. "There's a time when you can learn from each other as far as when one or them or myself mess up, we can figure out how to grow or we can watch film together. We should've done it earlier in the year, but I guess we were caught up in different ways. We can really take this time to grow together."