The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 128-123 after a spectacular overtime clash — and a redemption game for Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook recorded his tenth triple-double of the season, putting up 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. But most importantly, he brought the Lakers back to life after a 3-pointer from Gary Trent Jr. gave the Raptors a three-point lead with 26.1 left on the clock.
After a few chaotic possessions that followed, the 2017 NBA MVP stripped the ball off of Precious Achiuwa, ran back in transition, and sank a game-tying triple just 0.9 seconds before the end of regulation. L.A then out-battled Toronto in overtime, snapping an 11-game losing streak on the road.
After the game, head coach Frank Vogel said he was happy to see Westbrook emerging as the Lakers’ savior considering how difficult the 2021-22 season has been for the 33-year-old guard.
“I’m super happy for him,” Vogel said. “He’s obviously dealt with a lot, more than most of us with this season in terms of criticism and whatnot and he’s handled it well and he’s staying in the fight and staying in with his teammates. He really competed.
“I thought tonight he did a great job of really leading the team in terms of organizing our action. Not just making plays himself, but getting our group organized. He was very locked in to being that floor general and quarterback and I think that was a big part of the win. So I’m just happy for him to perform well throughout the whole game and obviously to hit those big shots.”
Vogel also pointed out the tides finally turned in the Lakers’ favor on Friday having suffered many unfortunate losses earlier in the season.
“You got to get some breaks along the way. This has been one of those seasons where we have not gotten any. In fact, it seems snakebitten in a lot of ways, where other teams are getting breaks.
“That was just a competitor-spirit play for Russ to get the turnover and obviously hit that big shot.”
Westbrook explains why missed shots don’t affect his confidence
Westbrook made four threes against the Raptors, tying his season-high for just the second time in 2021-22. Before the game, the guard hadn’t made multiple 3-pointers in the same game since January.
Asked how he remains confident in his shooting even when he can’t find his rhythm for a longer stretch of the season, Westbrook said: “I got 23,000 points, how about that?”
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