Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook bounced back from his slump with a strong effort in the last couple of games — which coincided with the passing of the 2021-22 season’s trade deadline.
Reports claimed the Lakers held talks with the Houston Rockets about exchanging Westbrook for John Wall before the deadline. But L.A. eventually failed to seal the deal, reportedly due to financial reasons.
As the rumors regarding Westbrook’s future kept circulating, the 2017 NBA MVP played badly, struggling to make shots and emanating lethargy on the defensive end. But his performance improved noticeably after the trade deadline passed on Feb. 10.
Westbrook averaged 18 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists while shooting 50% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc in the last two games before the All-Star break.
A change in Westbrook’s play didn’t elude head coach Frank Vogel’s attention.
“I’m certainly happy for him,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if it’s just a trade deadline shift with him. There’s ups and downs throughout the season and I think what we saw tonight was he has a great care factor. He wants this thing to work at the highest level.
“He believes like we all do that we have a chance to do something special and the way he played the last two games, in particular, was really good for us and strengthens our belief.”
Westbrook himself said after the 106-101 win over the Utah Jazz he wanted to get better at using his leadership skills on and off the court.
Westbrook thinks Lakers play with more pace and movement since trade deadline
Westbrook has noticed the Lakers started playing with a different tempo after the trade deadline passed, allowing the Purple and Gold to make better use of their weapons.
“A lot more kick-aheads, we’re not playing it slow,” the Lakers point guard said.
“The past two games we’ve played a lot faster. Our wings are running and doing a good job of cutting, including myself, just moving the ball and putting people in positions where they can be successful.”
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