In the Los Angeles Lakers 111-102 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Russell Westbrook saw action off the bench for the first time since his rookie season. He played well for his team.
Lebron James Said Westbrook “Catapulted” L.A.’S Attempt
LeBron James praised Westbrook, saying, “He was terrific,” and describing how Westbrook’s “catapulted” L.A.’s total effort. In every phase of the game, he performed well.
Westbrook scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out three assists in 33 minutes of action, more than he has played in any of the three games he started this season. He contributed to five of the Lakers’ 22 turnovers and went 6-for-17 from the field and 5-for-10 from the charity stripe.
It wasn’t a flawless game, but new head coach Darvin Ham and Westbrook had spoken about trying this out in the offseason, and the results were promising enough to try it out in Week 2 of the regular season.
Westbrook has always portrayed himself as a team player ready to sacrifice for the greater good. As long as it helps the team win, I’m willing to change aspects of my game that I’ve been working on for years to do anything the coach asks of me.
After big men Anthony Davis (lower back strain) and Thomas Bryant (thumb surgery) were ruled out, Ham opted to play a smaller lineup in the final minutes, leaving Rudy Gobert, a 7-foot-1 center for Minnesota, as the main defender.
Ham said, “Russ, my hat’s off to him once again.” “He came off the bench and showed the kind of influence he is capable of having in that capacity, strengthening our bench and not only attempting to keep things the same.
It seems like he played the part quite well tonight. Once we start getting our health back, I want to see him in it more often.”
Westbrook Tweaked His Typical Routine To Prepare
Westbrook said that he had to make a few tweaks to his usual regimen to ensure his readiness. For example, just before tipoff, he’ll often run from one end of the court to the other to get his heart rate up. Before entering the game on Friday, he rode an exercise bike in the tunnel.
He responded differently on Friday than he did after the preseason finale when he came off the bench and played just five minutes before leaving with hamstring discomfort and subsequently questioned if Ham’s choice to put him in as a backup may have caused the injury.
Westbrook was receptive this time around.
I’m not too disappointed with our performance tonight,” he said. “I’m relieved to hear that we focused our efforts where they should have gone. I agree that it’s crucial to get AD back and for the injured players to recover so that we can finally start things rolling. Until then, though, no one will have any pity on us. We must devise a plan to beat the competition.”
The Lakers were indeed serenaded with an uplifting anthem from the Target Center crowd “And number five! And number five! “shout it out in the dying seconds of the contest.
Despite promising to participate in all 82 games on the schedule during training camp, Davis had missed five of them.
Still, some of the Lakers’ most influential fans and investors have shown a willingness to be patient and optimistic.
If Davis wants to improve his health, “he needs to do what’s best for his body,” as James put it. “His health and sanity require that he take appropriate action. If his mental faculties have completely deteriorated, then everything else is moot.
Now he must have faith in himself. He’d indeed want to participate in every sport. He’d want to play for our squad; thus the answer is yes.
Despite this, he has suffered several injuries over the last few years and must learn to put his faith in himself and his team rather than risk more injury to his body.”
And Westbrook said he isn’t worried that things may go south as they did last year when he, James, and Davis were all restricted to only 21 games together because of injury.
Truthfully, “no,” Westbrook answered. “Simply put, I have a positive outlook on today. AD is prioritizing his health and well-being by taking good care of his physical being.
I believe the most crucial aspect of any injury is making sure the patient’s mind is in the correct place. We’re all set to depart as soon as he gets back, which we hope will be short.”