Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell (0) celebrates after making a shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

In his first home game as a Los Angeles Laker since 2017, guard D’Angelo Russell dished out 21 points and seven assists; this helped the Purple and Gold defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 120-102.

Russell noted his enjoyment of playing alongside forward LeBron James and center Anthony Davis.

“Those guys, they’re trying to play the right way the majority of the time,” Russell said. “Your two best players are winning passers and selfless out there and trying to screen away, they play basketball out there.”

Since his return to the Lakers, he played as a starter. This game marked the Lakers’ 30th starting lineup combination, with fellow new-coming guard Malik Beasley starting and having guard Dennis Schrӧder coming off the bench.

“It was just about trying to create as much balance as we possibly could,” said Lakers head coach Darvin Ham. “Moving [Schrӧder] to that second unit along with Troy (Brown Jr.), Rui (Hachimura), those guys have a great synergy together.

Davis led all scorers with 28 points, he made offensive plays to further secure the Lakers’ lead in the last minutes of regulation. Forward Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 25 points. Davis wanted to make sure the Lakers secured a win before going into the All-Star break.

“I wanted us to get on the winning side of things,” Davis said. “Going into break feeling good about ourselves and not letting a loss linger over the next six, seven days.”

The Lakers played efficiently in the starting minutes of the game. During the first quarter, they shot at 66.7 percent from the field and 50 percent in three-pointers. D’Angelo Russell connected with Anthony Davis for an alley-oop and Beasley went on a five-point run.

The Lakers’ offensive surge faltered in the second phase, allowing the Pelicans to close their deficit to four points.

After halftime, the Lakers found their momentum, creating a 7-2 run to maintain their lead. Russell scored 10 points in the third quarter alone.

“[Russell] is a really good, shifty point guard, space the floor, very crafty, very deceiving with his quickness, the way he plays the game,” James said.

Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum worked to close the New Orleans deficit early in the second half, but the Lakers made stops and scored to keep their dominance in the game.

This is Russell’s third game back with the Lakers since 2017. During June of that year, the Lakers traded Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for a 27th overall pick. The Lakers acquired Kyle Kuzma with the pick.

Russell has scored in the double digits in all three games, proving himself to be a valuable piece to the Lakers’ offense.

“I just kept saying it to the guys, just having that much fun playing basketball, it’s always been fulfilling,” Russell said.