LeBron James and Anthony Davis were incredible during the Los Angeles Lakers season opener against the Golden State Warriors. The two stars combined for 67 points and 22 rebounds in a reminder of just how deadly a duo they can be.
The same cannot be said for Russell Westbrook, who struggled in his Lakers debut. His jumper was off, he lacked the attack mode that makes his game so great and he had a tendency of looking lost on defense. He was a minus-23 in his 35 minutes, while the Lakers lost 121-114.
Even though it was just the first game of the season, there was already widespread concern about Westbrook’s long-term fit with the Lakers, echoing the questions that arose when the trade first was completed.
James, for one, is not concerned about Westbrook. “It’s one game. We want to learn from it, we want to get better, but we won’t harp on it too much.
“We’ll get better from it, he’ll get better from it. We’ll put him in positions where it benefits him and benefits our team. I think we’ll continue to learn that as the season goes on.”
James explained away the difficult first game, chalking it up to the nerves of being in L.A. as a Laker for the first time. “I think it was just first-game jitters… There probably was a lot going through his mind, just being a kid from L.A. Watching the Lakers growing up and then however many years down the road, putting on a Laker uniform and stepping into Staples Center.
“I can only imagine how many friends and family and contacts he had wanting to come see his first game as a Laker, so those things, those demands, those asks and those people wind down as the season moves on. So I’m not worried about Russ at all. He just needs to be himself.”
James, Davis, and the entire Lakers organization cautioned that it was going to take time for Westbrook to be acclimated to the Lakers system. While it’s always the hope that they will figure it out immediately, it very rarely works that way.
Westbrook — and the other 11 brand new Lakers players — were not going to be able to play together perfectly after just one training camp. This is a process that may take weeks or even months to figure out. In the meantime, L.A. is going to need to find ways to win some easier games to get atop the standings.
James gives advice to Westbrook
Even though James isn’t concerned about Westbrook moving forward, it was clear that the latter was upset after the loss so the former gave his running mate some advice.
“I’d tell Russ to go home and watch a comedy. Something that will put a smile on his face. He’s so hard on himself. I’d tell him don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s one game. Understand that we’re all competitors, and we all feel like shit when we don’t play well and play to our abilities, so I completely understand that as well, so I just don’t want him to be so hard on himself.
“Go home and see the babies that he has that might be sleeping, but will put a smile on his face. He has a beautiful wife and family, so at the end of the day you go home and you’re like, ‘Okay, It’s not that bad.’ But we do look forward to getting back in the film room and getting back on the floor on Thursday and seeing the ways that we can get better as a team and as individuals.”
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