Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) dribbles past Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
OAKLAND — The outcome seemed obvious well before the final buzzer sounded. The Lakers’ 111-77 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday at Oracle Arena set NBA history that did not involve purple and gold excellence. The Warriors (16-0) have an NBA record 16-game winning streak to open the season, an honor the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and 1993-94 Houston Rockets once held. The Lakers (2-12) lost their fourth consecutive game and posted a season-low in points.
Yet, the Lakers still had to finish the game. Lakers coach Byron Scott still had to evaluate how players performed. Players still had to prove they would still compete.
But Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell was not part of that process. He sat out the entire fourth quarter after posting eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one turnover in 25 minutes, 51 seconds.
“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”
In fact, Scott rested all of his starters, including Kobe Bryant, as the Lakers entered the fourth quarter trailing the Warriors, 89-55. But Russell represents a potential cornerstone of the Lakers’ long-term future. Isn’t there value in Russell having game experience even in blowout losses?
“Nah,” Scott said.
Russell would not have been playing in the Lakers’ normal rotation. That experience cannot simulate the same result in a competitive environment when successes or failures become more magnified. But Russell subscribed to the argument that any increased playing time will have long-term implications, regardless of the settings.
“That would be great,” Russell told Los Angeles News Group. “You’re only a rookie once. You get reps now and mess up now. So then next year when you’re not a rookie, you don’t have to worry about making rookie mistakes.”