The Los Angeles Lakers finally picked up their first win of the season on Sunday night against the Denver Nuggets and it was thanks in part to the play of Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook came off the bench for the second straight game and was awesome in his role, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while being a team-high plus-18 in 32 minutes.
The last two games have shown a glimpse of what Westbrook is capable on in a sixth man role when he’s staggered with LeBron James and can play with the ball in his hands while bringing energy on both ends of the floor.
After the win, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham expressed how proud he is of Westbrook for buying into this new role.
“I told him he’s gonna thrive man, just trust me. Trust me. I always told him, your sacrifice, a player of your magnitude for you to do this, it’s gonna send waves,” Ham said. “It’s gonna help our team and I said you can’t look at it like you’re getting so caught up in starting. If I remember correctly, he finished the game, right? And so it’s like, dude I’m putting you in a position where you’re gonna come off, he’s helping us in so many areas coming off the bench, scoring, rebounding, assists, he’s giving those other guys, Austin and those other guys confidence, Matt, Wenyen. So it’s taylor made in my opinion for our group as it’s built for him to be in that role and then gain his rhythm, and then now when Bron and AD are back on the floor, he’s in a good mood, he’s in a good mix because he’s playing and competing at a very high level.
“And our guys see that once they sit down like ‘OK, he’s taking it up a notch so I can’t come back in and be the one to ruin it.’ So I’m so happy for him man, he’s the last couple of games, Minnesota and tonight, he’s been phenomenal. Nothing short of amazing and I think I’m so happy. I can’t even imagine what that kid is going through. One of the biggest things about me getting this job was for him to get that respect that he deserves because a lot of went on last year was not his fault and everything, all of the blame, was placed on him. I told him just listen to me, believe in me bro. I’m gonna put you in position to succeed with the group but you gave to put the group first. It can’t be about me or I or mine, it’s got to be us, ours, we. And he’s done that.”
Westbrook’s name continues to be in trade rumors and that likely won’t stop, but his strong play can go a long way in quieting that down in the future.
Lakers fans have only ever cared about winning and they showed that on Sunday night when they supported Westbrook and the team on their way to their first victory.
Westbrook gave that energy right back to the fans, which was fun to see for a change and will hopefully go a long way in building confidence moving forward.
Westbrook happy for Ham after earning first win
Not only was Ham happy for Westbrook after Sunday night’s win, but it appears the feeling was mutual. Westbrook expressed joy for his head coach after Ham earned his first career victory.
“He’s such a down-to-earth person,” Westbrook said. “To get him his first win and be a part of it is a blessing for me. I know it’s a great accomplishment for him and his family and the things he’s been through in his lifetime and to be able to embrace it. Enjoy that moment with him was great.”
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