The Los Angeles Lakers were at a major size disadvantage on Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic. Still without Anthony Davis, the Lakers took on a Magic team that starts four players 6-foot-10 or taller with two more coming off the bench. But that meant absolutely nothing to LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers would still out-rebound the Magic by nine, led by 13 from Westbrook who secured his third triple-double off the bench this year, matching the record held by Detlef Schrempf in the Lakers’ 19-point victory. The point guard crashing the glass is nothing new as he is one of the best rebounding guards in NBA history, but it is even more important with the Lakers missing their star big man.
LeBron spoke about the importance of Westbrook’s work on the glass in the absence of Davis, noting that everyone has to step up without Davis and Westbrook’s work on the glass is key for the Lakers ability to get stops, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I mean we all just have to play a little bit more, and do a little bit more, and the responsibility goes on all of us. Russ has definitely picked up, obviously with the rebounding. We’re a team that lacks a lot of size and a lot of length and we’re tryna make it up. Just being fundamentally sound and also being athletic, start rebounding out of your own position and I think Russ has always done that in his career, he’s always rebounded outside his size and his length. Very key for us, when we’re able to get stops and also clean glass and not give up a lot of offensive rebounds.”
Westbrook finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in the win, with many of those assists coming in transition. Westbrook is great at securing a rebound and immediately pushing the pace, something that LeBron knows affects the game positively for the Lakers:
“Well it’s definitely gonna affect the game. It’s gonna give us some great pace, gonna push the tempo, give us a bit of the rebound and go, and push it. I know when I’m out on the floor with him I just got to run. When he gets the rebound and gets out on the break I got to run with him. He sees pretty much everything that’s going on on the floor. So just run and make yourself available.”
For all of his faults, Westbrook has really found his role with the Lakers and has been crucial in a number of the team’s victories this season. With Davis out, LeBron will need everyone to step up and help fill that void and Westbrook is doing so in one of the biggest holes Davis leaves, on the glass.
Russell Westbrook discusses importance of instilling confidence in Lakers role players
As LeBron noted, everyone must step up and do more with Davis being out. That is made even more difficult by the roster surrounding him as the Lakers have a lot of unproven players at the NBA level. But Westbrook feels it is their job as leaders to build these role players up.
Following the win in Orlando, Westbrook spoke about seeing the confidence from the Lakers’ role players as something he wants to continue to see moving forward. Westbrook added that it is on the leaders of the Lakers to instill confidence in them and it brings a smile to his face when they succeed.
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