The Los Angeles Lakers exposed themselves to heavy criticism in recent weeks due to their poor form and the Russell Westbrook fracas.
L.A. lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday even though they missed Damian Lillard — and their roster had barely played a game together following the franchise’s trade moves over the last week.
The loss prompted Phoenix Suns guard Cam Payne to call the Purple and Gold the worst team in the Western Conference in a late-night Twitter space. It also elicited some harsh words from Lakers legend James Worthy.
Before the ill-fated game, head coach Frank Vogel had benched Westbrook in crunch time in two straight games, leading to tensions between the two. The 2017 NBA MVP’s struggles drew mockery from Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Patrick Beverley, who took a swipe at the Lakers’ guard, continuing their long-standing feud:
I remember when somebody said all I do is run around and I trick y’all 😂 well my boy is The Real Magician this year.
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) February 10, 2022
Beverley’s tweet alludes to Westbrook’s comments that date back to Nov. 2019, when he said the then-L.A. Clippers guard’s defense was overrated. Westbrook’s jibe came after his then-Houston Rockets teammate, James Harden, scored 47 points against Beverley and his Clippers.
Westbrook has been dealing with an ugly slump, averaging 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 8.0 assists, shooting 33% from the field and 24% from beyond the arc over his last five games.
LeBron James: Westbrook wants to prove he belongs on championship contender
Even though recent reports claimed the Lakers lost faith in the success of their Big 3 due to Westbrook’s woes, LeBron James came to his teammate’s defense.
James said the 33-year-old guard still wants to make L.A.’s Big 3 experiment succeed.
“He wants to make plays, he wants to lead this team like he’s capable of doing and like he’s done in his career,” the four-time NBA champion said.
“He wants to prove to people, prove to himself that he knows he belongs on a championship ballclub, or someone that’s aspiring to be a championship ballclub.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!