When the Los Angeles Lakers played host to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, most of the attention was on the dynamic trio of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
And they didn’t disappoint, combining for 101 points as James posted 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting to go along with six rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes, Love put up 21 points on 6-of-15 shooting with 15 rebounds in just 25 minutes and Irving wowed with a game-high 46 points on an efficient 15-of-21 from the field.
It was the highest point total ever combined between the Big Three and Cleveland ended up coming back to earn a 125-120 victory.
However, after the game, both James and Irving made it perfectly clear that Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell is a special player and deserved praise for his amazing performance.
Here’s what James had to say about him after the game.
Whenever LeBron calls someone a “special player,” you should take notice.
On the night, Russell posted a career-high 40 points against the Eastern Conference’s best team, going 14-of-22 shooting, including 7-of-12 from beyond the arc in the loss. He also added two rebounds, six assists and a couple of steals over 41 minutes on the court.
In the process, he became the youngest Laker ever to drop 40. Considering the number of incredible players to suit up for the historic franchise, that’s a big deal.
Irving, who matched up with Russell at various points in the game, offered his thoughts on his opposition’s performance in the game. After all, he knew first-hand just how on fire the 21 year old was, as both men were trading buckets for a good portion of the contest.
It seemed like he completely welcomed the competition as he called Russell a “great young player.” Irving also noted that he knows how much Russell means to the Lakers, which was certainly on display on Sunday night.
On the season, Russell is averaging 15.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists over 27.6 points per contest. In the previous three games to Sunday’s epic performance, Russell didn’t see over 28 minutes in any of the three and combined for a total of 29 points on 11-of-33 shooting in what was a bit of a rough patch.
With the Lakers out of contention and hoping to get their young core some extended run down the final stretch of the year, it’s possible that he uses this performance as a stepping stone for more to come at the end of this campaign.