The Los Angeles Lakers staged a massive comeback in their Christmas Day showdown with the Brooklyn Nets, erasing a 23-point deficit to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Lakers would still come up short, and with LeBron James producing another outstanding performance, many pointed to Russell Westbrook’s struggles as part of the reason for the team’s fifth consecutive loss.
Westbrook did post a triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, but he was a Lakers-worst -23 in 37 minutes. He shot just 4-of-20 from the field with many of those misses coming at the rim and often in crucial moments and had five turnovers on the night.
But Westbrook still has the support of his Lakers teammates and coaches, and acting head coach David Fizdale stood behind Westbrook, who he knows is doing everything to turn it around.
“Got to keep attacking. That’s who he is, man. He’s a rim-attacking finisher, and for whatever reason, he just missed them,” Fizdale said after the loss. “A big part of it is that he just wants it so bad. You can see it in him. I think everybody feels it. He wants it so bad.
“I just know that’s hard for him when it doesn’t work out, and I know he cares like crazy. This is everything to him and sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. But we had a couple of other missed layups in the fourth as well. That would’ve really just been a game-changer for us, but I just want him to take a lot of that pressure off himself. Just keep attacking and keep playing the way we know he can.”
The desire of Westbrook to succeed can not be questioned. He is one of the most passionate players the NBA has ever seen, and there is no doubt that he is putting a ton of pressure on himself to help the Lakers succeed. In fact, it likely is too much as it often seems as if he is trying to do everything himself, which just causes more issues.
But LeBron is right there with Coach Fizdale in supporting Westbrook and pointing to the positive things he did on this night. “I think he had an off shooting night. He missed so many shots around the rim that he’s been accustomed to making throughout his career and throughout the season. I’m not worried too much of that,” LeBron added. “I think his decision-making was spectacular tonight. He had 11 assists, he had 12 rebounds, five of them offensive, and we know we’re not one of the better offensive rebounding teams in this league.
“He gave us extra possessions. He just missed a lot of looks around the basket, which I know he can’t stand as well, but as far as the effort piece, the guy plays hard, and the guy leaves it on the floor. I got no problem with that. It’s a make or miss league.”
The Lakers have several issues they still need to fix to turn things around, and even though the results haven’t shown yet, the team continues to support each other at every level, which shows how much this team truly believes in what they can become.
Westbrook will not panic despite Lakers struggles
Even with everything seeming to go wrong for the Lakers, Russell Westbrook still refuses to panic and continues to stress the Lakers’ need to simply figure out ways to win games.
“Figure it out, that’s it. Nothing else you can do but figure it out,” Westbrook said of L.A.’s struggles. “Find ways, get guys back in shape, Dwight, THT, Trev was in for a little bit, and now he’s out. Just figure it out; that’s it.
“Like I said, I don’t panic, and we got a bunch of guys in our locker room that don’t quit. Never give in to what’s happening. But that’s it; it’s the NBA. Regardless of if you lose by two or 28, it’s one loss. You got to turn the page and figure out a way to win a ballgame. That’s it.”
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