D'Angelo Russell vital for Lakers vs Nuggets, says Derek Fisher

D’Angelo Russell vital for Lakers vs Nuggets, says Derek Fisher

/ 08:24 PM April 17, 2024

D'Angelo Russell Los Angeles Lakers NBA Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a 3-point basket in the second half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New Orleans. The Lakers won 110-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

MANILA, Philippines—NBA legend Derek Fisher made it clear: if the Los Angeles Lakers were to upset the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, D’Angelo Russell must show up.

The Lakers secured their spot in the playoffs as the seventh seed after holding off the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-106, in the NBA play-in tournament on Wednesday (Manila time) to set up a showdown with the defending champion Nuggets.

“Obviously, LeBron and AD make everything kind of go but D’Angelo is, to me, the X-Factor that gives the Lakers a chance to contend for a championship. If he’s playing well, they’re hard to beat,” said Fisher during the Jr. NBA Philippines Coaches Clinic at NBA Community Court in Mandaluyong on Wednesday.


“I personally believe that his timely three-point shooting, his confidence, his swagger, those are all things that Lakers are going to need against the Nuggets,” he added.

After being at the center of trade rumors earlier in the season, Russell has been instrumental in the Lakers’ surge.  And the play-in duel against the Pelicans was no different with Russell firing 21 points on five made 3-pointers that went with six assists.

READ: LeBron James, Lakers get 7th seed with win over Pelicans

In last year’s playoff encounter between the two squads, Russell was the missing link for the Lakers, who wound up getting swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Fisher, who won five NBA titles during his first stint with the Lakers from 1996 to 2004, expects a battle in the rematch especially with how good of a team the Lakers have been to finish the season led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.


“Obviously, I’m biased, I want the Lakers to be successful but the best part about this is, we’re all going to see it. Regardless of what we think, they’ll start playing on Saturday and I’ll be expecting it to be a great series,” said Fisher. “Their chances against the Nuggets? We have to see because we can’t base it on last year’s result, I know that.”

“I think, in the last month and a half, other than the couple games that AD (Anthony Davis) missed, I don’t know if anybody record-wise has been better than what the Lakers have been.”


The Lakers (47-35) went 24-10 since February including their play-in game against the Pelicans.

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TAGS: D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

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