In a move that many expected to see at some point this season, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham decided to bring point guard Russell Westbrook off the bench in Friday night’s contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though they were unable to get their first win of the season, Westbrook did make an impact in the game.
Westbrook finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds, but the Lakers still failed to get over the hump, remaining winless after falling to the Timberwolves by nine. Overall,, Westbrook did provide some great energy off the bench for the Lakers and following the contest made it clear that coming off the bench did not change his mentality in the game, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Mentality didn’t change, just preparation. Different obviously, for me.”
Westbrook hadn’t come off the bench for a regular season game since his rookie season so that was obviously a change for the former All-Star. But he insists that he will continue to do whatever the coaches ask of him in order to benefit the Lakers:
“From day one I mentioned, like I said I’m a guy that’s willing to do whatever for the team. I’ve sacrificed whatever it is that needed to be sacrificed. Parts of my game that I’ve done for years to accommodate whatever it is that the coach needs me to do and I’ll continue doing that.”
Unfortunately, the change did not result in a Lakers win as they have now started the season 0-5. This change is surely a difficult one for Westbrook, but one that is made even difficult as the Lakers continue to come up short. Westbrook admitted as such after the game as well but maintains he will sacrifice in order to help the Lakers figure things out:
“Hell yeah. Coming off last season, sacrificing, ok. Sacrifice more and you’re still losing, it’s difficult especially playing and doing things I know I can be able to help our guys and I’ll continue doing whatever is asked of me and we’ll figure it out and get on the board.”
There were still some things to improve upon for Westbrook as he shot just 6-of-17 on the night and also committed five turnovers in the loss. But these were things that plagued the Lakers as a whole as they shot just 41.6 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep while also committing 22 turnovers.
But despite the issues, Westbrook looked much more like himself on this night, which is something Ham and the Lakers coaching staff will look to build upon as the team continues to search for its first win of the season.
Westbrook coming off the bench is Lakers plan for the foreseeable future
This bench role is something Westbrook will apparently have to get used to as this looks to be the plan moving forward the Lakers.
Recent reports suggest that bringing Westbrook off the bench is Ham’s plan for the foreseeable future so he will need to figure out how to consistently thrive in his new role with the Lakers.
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