Thursday’s clash between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder came down to the wire after L.A. gave up a 19-point lead.
Then, history eventually repeated itself and the Thunder came out with a win — their second over L.A. this year and overall in the season.
Carmelo Anthony did a good job at keeping the Lakers in the game, sinking two threes in the last minute. The chaotic final moments of the night led to L.A. having possession of the ball and less than eight seconds to score another trey if they wanted to take it to overtime.
However, Russell Westbrook missed a 28-foot jumper after an underwhelming play from Los Angeles and the buzzer soon rang to make the Lakers’ loss official. Westbrook appeared to have rushed into launching the long 3-point attempt as the clock showed three more seconds when the ball left the 32-year-old guard’s hands.
The execution of the play disappointed head coach Frank Vogel. “Not good enough, we want to get a better shot than that,” he said.
“The spacing wasn’t great, we were trying to get Melo to the top of the floor but the spacing wasn’t great.”
Two Thunder players covered the top of the key, which is where Anthony headed to take the final shot. Poor spacing can partly exonerate Westbrook for his decision to take matters into his own hands.
However, Vogel offered Westbrook some kind words for his performance, acknowledging his progress in taking care of the ball.
The 2017 NBA MVP committed just four turnovers on Thursday, an improvement from the 10 he registered in the first loss to the Thunder — when his carelessness overshadowed the guard’s triple-double.
“[H]e’s just got to continue to learn what we’re asking him to do within our system and one of those things is keeping his turnovers down, which he’s done a better job of,” Vogel said.
“And we got to continue to have him touch the paint and create as much as possible.”
Westbrook not worried about attacking the paint ‘every single time’
Although Vogel wants Westbrook to keep on driving toward the opponents’ basket, the nine-time All-Star refrained from attacking the paint against Oklahoma City and scored a big part of his 27 points from the midrange.
In the postgame, the guard explained he picks his plays by assessing the situation on the floor, which can sometimes result in adjusting his offensive inclinations.
“I just read the game,” Westbrook said. “I can score, any level. I’m not really worried about getting to the pain every single time,” Westbrook said of his performance.
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