Whether someone is a fan or detractor of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook, one thing that everyone can agree on is that his turnovers have long been a problem.
Anyone who has the ball in their hands as much as Westbrook does is bound to turn the ball over more than most, but oftentimes for Westbrook this season, it has been far too many for the Lakers to withstand.
Against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, Westbrook had one of his worst nights with nine turnovers, but the Lakers were able to win in spite of it. His comments afterward about the issue were divisive as well, but his performance against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday was anything but.
Westbrook finished the contest with 19 points and seven rebounds, but most importantly he did not commit a single turnover in the Lakers’ eight-point victory over Sacramento
After the game, the point guard had a simple explanation for what went into his performance.
“Just making easy reads,” Westbrook said.
This was the first time Westbrook did not commit a single turnover in a regular-season game since 2016 and to do so after his rough outing against Minnesota shows his resilience.
In fact, the Lakers as a team have done a better job of taking care of the ball lately with less than 10 turnovers in two of the last three games and though Westbrook had nine against the Timberwolves, the rest of the team combined had just six.
This is a recipe for success for the Lakers as they had just five against the Kings. Westbrook understands that low of a number isn’t really sustainable for the team, but it is undoubtedly something the Lakers are shooting for.
“It should help being that we had a season-low five. I don’t know if that’s realistic, but it shows that when we put our mind to it we can do it as a team.”
The Lakers have their struggles defensively and their turnovers exacerbate those issues. If the team can continue to take care of the ball it will go a long way towards getting things on track and turning this season around.
When Westbrook made his controversial comments after the Timberwolves game, the point he was trying to make was that he can impact the game in a variety of different ways even if he is turning the ball over at a high clip and missing shots.
He again clarified after the win over the Kings that is what he meant.
“Exactly. That’s what I mean. If you watch the game, and I’m not saying that you don’t, but people outside if you don’t watch the full game and just look at the stat sheet then you are not actually sure what happens in the game whether it’s offensive rebounds or defensive stops or being in the right spot. Doing other things that impact winning, but you wouldn’t know, so that is definitely what I was talking about.”
Frank Vogel defends Russell Westbrook’s turnovers
Despite a lot of outside criticism, those inside the Lakers have continually come to the defense of Westbrook and the impact he has made. Head coach Frank Vogel recently spoke on his turnover issues and believes overall he has gotten better over the past few weeks overall.
“I think he’s gotten better,” Vogel said. “I think we’ve seen that over the course of the last three, four, five weeks… I think guys are in different spots and some of that is the pieces moving around him, not just him.”
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