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D’Angelo Russell: LA Lakers star wants ‘all the smoke’ after NBA win over Bucks without LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team

D’Angelo Russell says he wants “all the smoke” after deciding the Los Angeles Lakers’s 123-122 home win over Milwaukee Bucks with 5.9 seconds remaining in the game.

Guard Russell scored a career-high 44 points, including nine assists and nine three-pointers, as well as taking time to gee up Lakers fans watching their injury-hit team operate without NBA great LeBron James.

“With my craft and talent on the floor, I’ve always felt like I was capable of doing things,” the 28-year-old said. “I never lack confidence, I never fear confrontation – I want all the smoke.

“Those high-IQ players, let’s get in the room and talk about it. I just feel confident in what I bring to the basketball game. If it’s film, if it’s watching it, helping young players – I just know what I bring to the table, so whatever room I walk in, I’m confident.”

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In speaking about his experiences off the court, Russell appeared to reference an incident during his first spell at the Lakers, between 2015 and 2017, when he allegedly filmed a team-mate speaking candidly about their personal life, reportedly leading to locker room disquiet.

“Off the floor, you all know what I’ve been through,” he said. Public humiliation has done nothing but moulded me into the killer that you see today.

“It’s huge for us to get this win; the standings are close and tight but, as a group, we’re trying to get healthy, and that’s the hardest thing for us.

“For us to scrape wins with the groups we have out there – there’s not a lot of chemistry with some of those units but we figure it out and everybody’s stepping up and making plays.”

The Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference after a 23rd victory in 34 home games this season, and Russell, who was fined $15,000 for kicking a ball into a stand in January, took the chance to interact with supporters who were watching the dramatic showdown with the Bucks in person.

“I know how they are in this arena: they’re ready to explode at every moment,” he said.

“They go through hell to get here and be as loud as they can be and cheer for us, through good games and bad.

“Any time I feel that momentum, I like to get the crowd going.”

James missed out after a long-term left ankle injury he has been managing forced him out of the Lakers’ defeat at home to Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

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