Russell Westbrook is arguably enjoying his best run of games of his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, leading to two essential victories over the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
After hitting the unbelievable last-second triple that allowed L.A. to snap up a win in Toronto, Westbrook put in an efficient, all-around shift in Cleveland. He ended the night with 20 points and 11 assists on 50% from the field and 33.3% from downtown, committing just one turnover along the way.
Westbrook’s playmaking helped the Purple and Gold take the initiative and dominate the Cavaliers in the second half despite another slow start.
The 2017 NBA MVP’s form is surging after he endured quite a few rough stretches during the season, most recently struggling to shoot the ball well early in 2022. Westbrook explained he simply “stayed committed to his work” and the values he believes in to persevere in spite of adversity.
“I have an unbelievable amount of faith and really just sticking with that,” he said. “When you find ways to be able to stick and land on my faith, everything else will fall in place. So as the season prolongs, I never waver, as you guys know. I’ve been consistent with my messaging all year on confidence and different things of that nature, just finding a way to make plays for our team.”
Westbrook said he didn’t know if the last three-game stretch has been his best in a Lakers jersey, but the guard thinks he was beginning to “play the right way” in the loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Like I always mention, sometimes it isn’t always scoring for me, just playing the right way, making the right reads, putting myself in position to make my teammates better is what has been beneficial for me. Something I do well and do at a high level,” he said.
Westbrook emphasized a change in his positioning on the floor as one of the key factors behind his recent form surge.
“Regardless of missed or made shots, it allows not just myself, but other guys to get rhythm shots and create some type of pace to where we’re playing better,” he said. “You’ve seen that the last I want to say three or four games.”
Westbrook embraced adversity to maintain confidence in himself & Lakers
Westbrook has been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny this season — and even experienced bullying together with his family, causing him and his wife to publicly ask for the harassment to stop.
But the 33-year-old said the negativity didn’t chip away at his confidence in the Lakers’ potential as well as his own.
“Honestly, for me, I live for adversity and just negativity from people from the outside that are constantly talking because there’s nothing better than shutting people up,” Westbrook said.
“There’s nothing better than sitting back and watching people just be quiet and not talk when you kind of trying to figure it out. That’s something I realized and we know that outside people are doubting what we’re able to do internally here. Like I said, super confident in our ability to be able to score and defend at a high level and when we do it well, there’s not much teams can do.”
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