How the Miami Heat may have been responsible for a clash between Darvin Ham and D’Angelo Russell

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Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham and guard D’Angelo Russell butted heads in a film session following the team’s loss to the Miami Heat on Jan. 3.

“A film session in early January, following a 110-96 loss to the short-handed Miami Heat, led to Ham and Russell clashing,” McMenamin wrote. “The coach wanted to see better effort and execution; the player wanted to see sharper schemes. Ham was headstrong in his instructions, illustrating through the film where his team would ‘half-a– it through possessions,’ he said.

“Russell dismissed the lack of execution, focusing rather on an alternative approach he believed would be better for the team.”

The Heat beat the Lakers by 14 points despite being without their top player in Jimmy Butler. But Russell didn’t play in that game either, as he was ruled out with a tailbone contusion.

At the time, Russell was fresh off a month of December in which he didn’t play at the top of his game. For the month, he averaged 10.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on 41.0 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent shooting from deep.

Plus, he failed to score 20 or more points in a single game during the final month of 2023. The most he scored was 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 21.

But since the start of the new year, Russell has been on a roll from a scoring standpoint. He has averaged 20-plus points per game in each month this year and is averaging a whopping 22.0 points per game on excellent efficiency (51.9 percent shooting from the field and 48.8 percent shooting from deep) in the month of March.

The 28-year-old guard is also only a few days removed from what was possibly his most impressive scoring display of the 2023-24 regular season.

In the Lakers’ one-point home win over the Milwaukee Bucks on March 8, Russell scored 44 points and knocked down nine 3-pointers. Several of his current teammates who didn’t play in the game — LeBron James, Christian Wood and Jarred Vanderbilt — all lauded Russell’s performance on X (formerly known as Twitter).

The Heat handing the Lakers an ugly loss back in January and the subsequent clash between Russell and Ham may have played a part in the guard’s remarkable turnaround over the past few months.

Perhaps fortunately for the Heat, they won’t play Russell and the Lakers again before the end of the 2023-24 regular season next month.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.