That’s when the on-pace-for-the-best-record-in-NBA-history Golden State Warriors pulled their starters, effectively waving the white flag in a remarkable 112-95 upset loss to the on-pace-for-the-worst-record-in-franchise-history Lakers at Staples Center.
It wasn’t until that point that Russell believed, because the rookie guard said he knew the Warriors could still ignite one of their patented scoring runs, leading to a flurry of points that could erase any deficit in a heartbeat. No, until those starters left the court, Russell said, it wasn’t over. Not really.
"Heck no,” he said after a 21-point performance. "Those guys, they’re good.”
For whatever reason, though, the 55-6 Warriors weren’t good enough against these 13-51 Lakers.
"I’m just as speechless as you are about tonight,” Lakers icon Kobe Bryant joked.
To place the game in the proper context, consider that in terms of the difference in winning percentage between two teams (minimum 25 games into the season), Sunday marked the biggest upset in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
It was shocking considering the defending-champion Warriors had won the first three games against the Lakers this season by an average of more than 24 points per game. The Lakers also had lost 10 of their previous 11 games overall.
Of course, the Lakers were certainly thrilled with the most unlikely result, the brightest spot in the darkest season in organization’s history, and it was an outcome that Lakers fans no doubt loved, as they cheered and shouted as loud and as long as they have all season.
But the Lakers also seemed to appreciate that they played by far their best game of the season on a night when the vaunted Warriors played by far one of their worst.
"They were missing a lot of shots,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said.
Each time it seemed like the Warriors might make a comeback run, the Lakers fought back.
"We got lucky a little bit on some of them,” Russell said. "They were missing wide-open shots."
To wit: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 1-of-18 from 3-point range. The Warriors shot a season-worst 13.3 percent from beyond the arc. And the Warriors’ 4-for-30 from 3-point range marked the fourth-worst single-game effort since the 3-pointer came to the NBA in the 1979-80 season.
"It’s just a bad performance all the way through,” said Curry, who finished with 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
Perhaps most startling -- the Warriors weren’t just missing shots; often, they weren’t coming close. Curry missed a wide-open layup in the second half, giving credence to the idea that it was just one of those games for the Warriors.
It’s hard to say exactly what this game means for the Lakers, but Sunday did offer a glimpse into the enticing promise and potential that the Lakers have in their backcourt with Russell and second-year guard Jordan Clarkson. The two combined to sink seven 3-pointers, and Clarkson scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting.
"We were making shots,” Clarkson said. "We were moving the ball. We’re just growing as a young group here. We just have to keep our foot to the pedal and keep going.”
Their big game was an even more impressive performance considering the backcourt they up against.
"They’ve been dominating the league for a while -- this whole year,” Russell said. "When you compete against guys like that, their All-Star backcourt, you’ve got to take it up a notch. That’s what we tried to do.”
Russell also credited Bryant, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
"Kobe kept us on our toes,” Russell said. "He was coaching us the whole game from the sideline. Metta [World Peace], they were doing a great job of coaching us from the sideline, telling us to push it when we got it, don’t wait. And it worked.”
Bryant, a 20-year veteran who is retiring this summer, boiled the game down to its essence -- to what really mattered.
"The improvement and the importance of this game is not necessarily in the win, but it’s in the fact that they executed the game plan very well,” Bryant said of the Lakers' young players. "They paid attention to detail very well. For young guys, I think it’s extremely important to see the results of that. Like when you pay attention to little details, good things happen.
"As they grow, they start trusting that more and more. They start trusting the process more and more. From that aspect, I think it was a big game."
Depending on how this season shakes out, the game could go down as a footnote to the Warriors' run to the best record in league history. Or perhaps it will be the head-scratching loss that contributes to them coming up short of that mark.
For the Lakers, it appeared to be one of those games where everything went right, including everything going wrong for the opposition. But the Lakers will take any win they can get these days, especially one against what may well be the greatest team in NBA history.