D'Angelo Russell's big game vs. Bulls raises the question: Should Lakers trade him?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates.

D’Angelo Russell looked at Taurean Prince in the corner by the Lakers’ bench immediately after perfect ball movement got his teammate a wide-open three.

As the ball swished — and Thursday, it swished a lot — Russell stared at Prince and blew him a two-handed kiss. It was his homage to Prince’s signature celebration, the Lakers as in sync as they’ve been in months.

And again, Russell was the hub, celebrating teammates' buckets — literally skipping into halftime after a Jarred Vanderbilt layup — while joyfully sniping from behind the three-point-line in a 141-132 win over the Chicago Bulls.

“He's playing at a high level,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of Russell. “It's beautiful to watch the player, that especially represents your team, go on a tear like this. We've needed all of it, and he's in an extremely good rhythm."

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All the kissing, skipping, shooting and scoring from Russell has to make the Lakers look closely at their situation in the final six games before the NBA trade deadline.

Is this the guy they really want to trade?

Russell’s heater, which has run over the last two weeks and continued with 29 points and eight threes Thursday, has shown the Lakers the best version of the player they traded for last season. His catch-and-shoot game has been in rhythm, his knack for finding momentum plays on display and his joy undeniable.

His name has been involved in most trade rumors of substance, the foremost being the Lakers' pursuit of Dejounte Murray. But with Russell back in the starting lineup next to Austin Reaves, the Lakers have started to play with continuity and comfort for longer, more impactful stretches.

“The good thing Coach Ham did was [say], 'This is the lineup we're sticking with and we're going to go with that,'" LeBron James said. “And the rotations have been good. Our starting lineup has been consistent over the last few games. And we have a lot of playmaking, a lot of shot-making in that first unit. And we've got guys that come off the bench that know their roles and come in and play at a high level. “It's been working so far.”

The team has had 27 or more assists in nine straight games (they had 35 Thursday), as they’ve looked much smoother on that side of the floor.

“We're just playing the right way, you know? Just playing the right way,” James said. “Guys are feeling comfortable, feeling very comfortable out there. We've got guys that can make shots, we've got guys that can make plays.”

But like it’s been all year, nothing is simple.

The good vibes the Lakers created in the first 36 minutes almost disappeared in the final 12, turnovers and fouls taking them out of rhythm and putting the Bulls back into the game.

Luckily for the Lakers, there’s no such thing as a fifth quarter, their lead (once 24 points) combined with clutch buckets from Anthony Davis and James enough to keep them ahead.

James finished with 25 points after returning from a one-game absence, Davis added 22 and Reaves scored 20. Vanderbilt had 17 off the bench, the Lakers scoring their season high.

The win capped a friendly stretch in the schedule where the Lakers played 11 of 12 games at Arena and only left the state once (to play in Utah). Things will get rough again, with the Lakers starting their annual Grammys trip Saturday at Golden State with stops in Houston, Atlanta, Boston, New York and Charlotte before they’re back home.

The trip also takes them up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline, when all decisions will be final.

Before playing the Bulls, Ham said the Lakers would be on the lookout for ways to improve their team. That’s been the standard line since Lakers trade season kicked off in mid-November when Chicago’s Zach LaVine unofficially entered the market after the Bulls' slow start.

But as they’ve settled in to more level-minded basketball over the last two weeks, the arguments for staying put have been made more convincingly on the floor.

“I have all the faith and confidence in the world, when we're healthy and we're playing the right way, we're competing at a high level defensively, sharing the ball offensively, sky's the limit,” Ham said before the game.

And for most of Thursday, the Lakers proved him right.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.