One of the most common talking points surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been the turnovers and missed shots of Russell Westbrook. Each time he has an inefficient game, that dominates the story surrounding the game, regardless of anything else that happened, perhaps rightfully so.
Throughout his career, one of Westbrook’s biggest criticisms has been his ability to play his teams out of games by “playing too fast,” leading to turnovers and bad misses. Frank Vogel and the Lakers have stuck by their star guard through a few of these performances, and have defended him even harder when he plays well.
Following a nine-turnover game that prompted viral comments from Westbrook about how turnovers don’t define his game, Vogel once again made sure to stand by the Lakers point guard.
“Nobody plays the games with zero turnovers, nobody plays games where they shoot 100 percent from the field,” Vogel said before the following game against the Sacramento Kings. “That’s part of the game. Sometimes you have stretches where there’s more misses and turnovers than usual, but there’s still other ways you impact the game with defense, screening, setting guys up with assists.
“It doesn’t tell the full story is what I think he’s trying to say. I agree with him on that. With regard to the turnovers, you got back and look at the turnovers it’s like football. A guy has a few interceptions when he throws the ball off guys’ hands. It’s not always the quarterback’s fault. So you keep it all in context. Russell is a winning player. He’s really helping us and even in nights where the stat sheet may not look favorable for him. He’s still helping us impact winning.”
But more importantly for Vogel, he sees Westbrook as someone who cares deeply about the success of the Lakers. He focused on that after having zero turnovers in the Lakers’ win over the Kings.
“Russ is really invested in this team. You know that? He’s not always perfect, but he really cares,” Vogel said. “He really wants to do the right thing and I was really proud of a bounce-back performance after having that high-turnover night last game and coming out and having zero turnovers tonight. That’s a great exhibit of ball security, which I challenged our team. Not just Russ, I challenged our team to be better with ball security and it was a big part of the win.”
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense for Vogel to call out Westbrook or say anything openly negative. However, it’s still a positive to see him speak highly of Westbrook even when he struggles. Throughout his illustrious career, far more attention has been placed on Westbrook’s bad nights, and Vogel made sure to highlight the good ones too.
Moving forward, we’ll see if Westbrook slows his game down in any way as Vogel hinted. It would be a first for the sure-fire Hall of Fame point guard, but it might serve a benefit to the championship aspirations of the team.
Westbrook made ‘easy reads’ on zero-turnover night
Vogel was not the only one to get a chance to defend Westbrook after his zero-turnover performance. Westbrook spoke on behalf of himself, saying that it came down to “just making easy reads.”
In classic Westbrook fashion, that’s all he had to say about his outing against the Kings.
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