1. Russell responds with a strong outing
D’Angelo Russell was benched for the entire fourth quarter Friday night against the Houston Rockets — the third time this season in a competitive game he’s been held out down the stretch — and that was the topic of much discussion over the last couple of days.
But Russell has also been terribly inconsistent in the early going this season and against Houston his defense couldn’t have been much worse had he just put a stamp on the top-right corner of the envelope.
His defense was much better Sunday night, even as he didn’t draw a terribly difficult assignment in Philadelphia 76ers small forward Robert Covington.
But Russell helped negate Covington as an offensive factor, as the wing finished with just four points — well below his 12.3 per game average coming in — on 1-of-5 shooting.
It was the effort that mattered. Russell fought over screens and kept his hands active in the passing lanes.
He also shook off a cold start, hitting 6-of-9 from the floor in the second half to finish 10-for-21, as Russell had the whole tool kit of runners, floaters and mid-range jumpers on full display.
Offensively, his decision-making was solid, he took care of the ball outside of one early miscue and had a good feel for when to pass and when to take the rock himself.
He’s had higher scoring games this season, but he might not have had a better all-around performance — the total package — than he did Sunday.