03/23 01:24 CDT Surging Nets eliminate Lakers from playoff picture, 111-106
Surging Nets eliminate Lakers from playoff picture, 111-106
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) --- D'Angelo Russell took no public pleasure in playing a
pretty big role in officially eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers from playoff
contention for yet another season.
Russell is much more excited about the increasing likelihood that he's about to
make his postseason debut with the Brooklyn Nets.
Joe Harris hit six 3-pointers while scoring 26 points, and Russell added 21
points and 13 assists against his former team in the Nets' 111-106 win over the
Lakers on Friday night.
Russell had seven points and three assists in the fourth quarter while Brooklyn
held on to beat the Lakers, who drafted Russell in 2015 and traded him in 2017.
He hit two big 3-pointers down the stretch, and he raised his finger to his
lips to shush his former fans in the Staples Center crowd.
But Russell said it was nothing personal, and he didn't think much about
putting the final nail in the Lakers' playoff hopes.
"Sounds good on paper, but at the end of the day, we're not playing them,"
Russell said. "We're not competing against them for seeding, so the win is good
Los Angeles (31-41) will miss the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth
straight season even with LeBron James, who fell just short of his 81st career
triple-double with 25 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
"It's been a tough season for all of us," James said. "It's not what we signed
up for. Throughout the year, things happen. Suspensions, injuries, and us just
not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes. You don't even
try to wrap your head around it. You just keep playing and try to get better
and go from there."
The Nets needed another big game from Russell, who scored 27 of his 44 points
in the fourth quarter of a thrilling win over the Kings three nights earlier.
That stunning effort in Sacramento was the latest highlight of a breakout
season for LA's former No. 2 overall pick.
Russell was well-liked by Lakers fans --- but not by Magic Johnson, who dumped
Russell in a trade to get rid of Timofey Mozgov's onerous contract just a few
months after the Hall of Famer took over the Lakers' basketball operations.
"This is definitely where I started," said Russell, who has previously
acknowledged being irked by Magic's parting comments about his leadership.
"It's definitely a place that gave me an opportunity. Not many guys started
somewhere and then that was forgotten throughout their career. You know,
Chauncey Billups, the (Steve) Nashes of that group, so I'm trying to consider
myself one of those guys."
Russell has grown into an All-Star in Brooklyn, while the Lakers have stayed in
largely the same place in the standings despite adding James last summer.
JaVale McGee had career highs of 33 points and 20 rebounds along with six
blocked shots for the Lakers, who have lost five straight and 10 of 11.
After 23 lead changes, the Lakers got within three points in the final minute,
but James committed a turnover and missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Nets: Allen Crabbe missed his fourth straight game with a sore right knee.
Lakers: Tyson Chandler got his first game action since March 2. ... Kuzma hit a
3-pointer from half-court to beat the shot clock in the first quarter.
Spencer Dinwiddie added 19 points in his hometown as the Nets (38-36) bolstered
their playoff chances with their second straight win after an 0-3 start to this
seven-game road trip. Brooklyn is seventh in the Eastern Conference standings,
a half-game behind sixth-place Detroit and 2 games ahead of ninth-place
The Lakers will miss for the sixth consecutive season, easily the longest
streak in the 16-time NBA champion franchise's history. The Lakers had only
missed the playoffs five times in their first 55 seasons of existence before
this current drought.
With 10 games left in the season, the Lakers already know they're staying home
again for the playoffs, even after adding James to the roster last July. James
has played in the last eight consecutive NBA Finals, but he will miss the
postseason for the first time since 2005, his second pro season with the
McGee, the veteran big man with two championship rings from Golden State, had
the biggest offensive game of his 11-year NBA career. He went 15 for 20 from
the field, repeatedly converting in the paint on 10 assists from James.
Nets: At Trail Blazers on Monday night.
Lakers: Host Kings on Sunday night.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports