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D.J. Augustin gives Lakers a shooting boost with perfect night – Daily News



CLEVELAND — Now, D.J. Augustin has a problem: the weight of expectations.

Surveying the 34-year-old’s 7-for-7 shooting night from the field, Lakers coach Frank Vogel turned to deadpan.

“I think the expectation now is he’s shown us he can shoot 100% from the field, so now we expect him to do that moving forward,” he quipped. “Not allowed to miss any more shots.”

Good jokes have a whiff of truth to them: The Lakers need role players like Augustin to have big shooting nights to win games. Delivering 20 points, his high mark in 11 games with the Lakers, Augustin showed he’s capable of stretching the floor and creating space for LeBron James and Russell Westbrook to drive to the rim.

But in his 14th season, maybe that pressure isn’t that big of a deal to him.

“They’re basically leaving us open just to catch and shoot or swing it to different options,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but our job is pretty easy.”

The Lakers signed the 5-foot-11 guard at a difficult time. Since joining the team at the start of March, Augustin has seen the team go 4-7, including three consecutive losses when the Lakers fell behind by double digits in the first quarter.

But throughout, Augustin said he’s kept an even keel, even though the Lakers were taking uppercuts straight on the chin. He hasn’t been around long enough to get jaded.

“Before I got here, I wasn’t honestly paying attention because I was with another team (in Houston),” he said. “Internally we feel like we’re a great team and we can do something special. Make a run. Get into the playoffs. And make a run in the playoffs. And as long as we believe in each other, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.”

It does matter if Augustin makes his shots: His six 3-pointers accounted for half of the Lakers’ long-range baskets on a night when James was 0 for 4 from behind the arc. The main reason the Lakers signed him (besides his experience playing with Westbrook and for Vogel) is his 40.5% mark on 3-point attempts this season.

James seemed especially relieved that Augustin is now one of his receiving options.

“I’ve always flourished in my career with shooters and DJ is a shooter,” he said. “He’s a big-time maker and every time I see him have any split-second of open I’m gonna try to find him.”

HORTON-TUCKER HELD OUT

There was only one unexpected scratch in Monday’s game: The Lakers decided to hold out Talen Horton-Tucker, who has now missed four of the last 11 games. He went 0 for 5 from the field Saturday against Washington, slipping and stumbling several times on the court during his 16 minutes.





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