Since coming on the bench, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook has looked like a completely different player.
Although the Lakers had their modest two-game winning streak shattered by the Utah Jazz on Friday night, Westbrook put in another solid performance. The former MVP led the Lakers in scoring with 26 points on 9-of-14 effective shooting to go along with six assists and three rebounds.
Westbrook was the catalyst for Los Angeles’ run in the third quarter, and his play earned him MVP chants at the free throw line, via Clutch points:
MVP chants for Russell Westbrook ring out in the Crypto arena 🗣pic.twitter.com/wZ1D1n92Sy
—ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 5, 2022
For someone who heard boos and fans yelling at him not to shoot games during his tenure with the Lakers, getting that support must have done Westbrook some good.
Asked about the chants after the game, he attributed it to his game and his work.
“Honestly, I’m just grateful and blessed, and I give all my thanks and credit to the man above for allowing me to be able to compete,” Westbrook said. “Good games, bad games. Off nights, good nights. I’m just going to let my game and my work speak for itself.
Westbrook also spoke about what happened in his recent solid game.
“Just constantly, keep bringing it. But I know how. Not just playing basketball with a fire and a competitive spirit and letting my energy be contagious. I’m trying to do my best to be able to come in and be effective somehow. If you keep doing this, it will put us in the right position.
Head coach Darvin Ham had been very enthusiastic about Westbrook since arriving in Los Angeles because he believed he could put him in positions to succeed. Coming off the bench seemed like an imminent disaster given Westbrook’s proud nature, but so far it has proven to be a potentially life-saving decision after the team started 0-5.
It’s easy to analyze why Westbrook thrived on the bench, as he was given more ball-handling responsibilities rather than having to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis off the ball. The veteran guard is at his best when he’s able to grab a defensive rebound and run down the field where he can pressure the rim and finish or find teammates for open shots.
The best version of the Lakers always involves James and Davis living up to their potential, but having someone like Westbrook who can change the tenor of a game with his energy on both sides is a key ingredient to their success. Let’s hope Westbrook continues this level of play because the Purple and Gold will surely need it.
Ham pushes for Westbrook to be in conversation for Sixth Man of the Year
As a staunch Westbrook supporter, Ham has taken it upon himself to ensure his main guard is in the best possible position to succeed. Coming off the bench has been a boon for Westbrook and the Lakers, and Ham has already begun to lay the groundwork for Westbrook’s sixth man of the year case.
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