Russell Westbrook suited up for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night for the first time this preseason after resting the first two games. He played alongside LeBron James and stumbled out of the gate with a clunky performance.
In 17 minutes of action, all in the first half, Westbrook scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting. He grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists, but turned the ball over six times and was a minus-8 in that time. It wasn’t his best work, but Frank Vogel was not at all worried following the game.
Vogel spoke about necessary adjustments being an expected outcome of this game, and what positives he can take away. “Really good energy, it was good to see them play in a real game together for the first time,” Vogel said of Westbrook and James. “To be expected, there was some rust and there was some growing pains, an adjustment period is something we expect with those guys.
“But I thought both of them played with great energy and I thought Russ was even trying to create or play unselfishly too much on a couple possessions that led to some of his turnovers. But playing the right way, we’ll live with that. So overall a good start.”
Vogel said that Westbrook being too unselfish has actually been a point of discussion in practice as well, as the Lakers coach is always one to encourage attacking the basket and scoring.
“Yeah, we’ve had some possessions like that but Russ has been really dynamic in practices. This game, short sample size, is not indicative of how he’s looked with our group. So we’re gonna shake it off and I think he’s gonna have a hell of a start with us here with the Lakers.”
Even though it will take more time on the floor for them to gel, Vogel is not yet sure how many more preseason games James and Westbrook will play.
“Yeah, I think so. We said at least two, so there may be more,” Vogel said. “We’ll huddle up before each game and see if it makes sense. Even though this is the first time you all have seen these guys play together, they’ve been doing it pretty regularly for a week or two now and they’re getting the necessary work.”
The Lakers are not a team built for the early days of the regular season. It’s going to take time before everyone feels fully comfortable playing alongside one another. In the meantime, there are worse problems to have than being too unselfish.
Westbrook will eventually figure out the best blend of distributing and attacking when playing with James and Davis, but it won’t happen overnight.
No decisions on big three for Sunday
The Lakers are taking a day-by-day approach to the preseason, which means no decisions have been made with regard to which — if any — of the big three will play in Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
“We haven’t made any decision on who’s gonna play Sunday yet, we’ll make that decision on Sunday. But those guys will get some run together. It’s a marathon, it’s a long season and we’re working each day, we’re growing each day and we’ll see those guys some in the preseason.”
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