The Los Angeles Lakers did a lot of things right in their home opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. The energy and effort on defense was great and the team took care of the ball with just nine turnovers. But when the starting backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley shoot a combined 1-of-18 and Kendrick Nunn also fails to hit a shot in seven attempts, it’s hard to overcome.
Westbrook was 0-for-11 on the night, finishing with just two points. But for as bad as he was offensively, he did give great effort on the other side of the ball. Westbrook finished with five steals and also added four assists while turning the ball over just once and despite his awful shooting, Westbrook thought he had a decent game overall.
“Solid. Solid,” Westbrook said following the Lakers six-point loss to the Clippers. “Played hard, that’s all you can ask for. Move on to the next one.”
The effort of the entire team can not be questioned in this game. Despite falling behind by double-digits multiple times, the Lakers continually fought back and even briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter with a furious rally. Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite keep the momentum going and when asked why the Lakers came up short, Westbrook didn’t have an explanation.
“Not sure,” Westbrook added. “Not one particular reason. I thought we competed.”
The reason most point to is the lack of shooting. The Lakers failed to reach 30 percent shooting from 3-point range for the second straight game, knocking down just 9-of-45 from deep for an abysmal 20 percent mark.
Despite that, it was an encouraging outing from Westbrook on the defensive side as he battled extremely hard down the stretch against Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, coming up with three steals in the final four minutes, something Westbrook says he will keep doing for the team.
“It’s what I’ve always done,” the Lakers’ point guard added. “I’ll continue doing that.”
If he and the rest of the Lakers can keep up that fire and effort defensively, a rise to just league-average shooting will result in some victories going forward.
James praises Westbrook despite terrible shooting night
Lakers superstar LeBron James was right in line with his teammate following the game as well, saying that Westbrook should forget about this game as he simply failed to make shots.
“Just flush it down the toilet and get ready for Sunday,” James said. “He’s a veteran. We’ve all had bad shooting nights. I’ve had bad shooting nights. Everybody in his league has had bad shooting nights. Who cares?
“He played a great game. Defensively he was in tune, he was locked in. He pushed the tempo. Just didn’t make any shots. And that’s okay. You have five steals. Two back-to-back in a critical time. In trying to post against Kawhi [Leonard]. He just didn’t make any shots, so that’s fine.”
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