There were a lot of eyes on the Los Angeles Lakers in their first game after the trade deadline against one of the best teams in the NBA in the Golden State Warriors. After arguably their worst loss of the season, and with Russell Westbrook back in the lineup, no one knew what to expect from Frank Vogel’s team in primetime on Saturday night.
What wound up happening was one of the team’s better overall performances of the season and even though they came up just short against the Warriors, it was a glimpse of how competitive the Lakers could be when they are focused. And arguably the best performance from their three superstars came from Westbrook.
The Lakers’ point guard finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and five assists while hitting 7-of-13 from the field and turning the ball over just once. Afterward, Vogel had high praise for what Westbrook brought to the team.
“He was really locked into what we were trying to do defensively and really talking to guys and leading,” the Lakers head coach said. “He played with a great competitive spirit. He didn’t turn the ball over much and was efficient offensively. I was just disappointed we didn’t get this W because there was a lot of positive signs, but he was terrific tonight.”
Performances like these are what can truly help the Lakers reach their potential, especially when he is locked in defensively. That side of the ball has been the Lakers’ biggest issue this season and Westbrook setting the tone there would be crucial.
For Westbrook himself, he simply chalked it up to doing whatever he could to help the team win and was encouraged even though they failed to gain the victory. He also added that it helps having more clarity from Vogel on how he’s supposed to play.
“I’m just trying to do whatever was needed from me to help the team become better. It’s as simple as that,” Westbrook added. “Like AD mentioned, we had a good practice yesterday and ironed things out on kind of how we want to play moving forward. Tonight was a good kind of start to that.
“We lost the game, but I’m optimistic and happy about the way we played the game. For the most part, played the game the right way. Just like AD said, there was some unlucky bounces and misses that can change the game and we could be sitting here talking about the great win we had.”
The Lakers have been the biggest disappointment in the entire NBA this season, but performances like they had against the Warriors are sure to give some hope that this team can still make a run. If the Lakers can keep Westbrook playing this way while LeBron James and Anthony Davis dominate they could very well turn things around.
James says Lakers felt ‘connected’ vs. Warriors
The feeling of positivity despite the loss to the Warriors carried down to the entire Lakers team as well. James noted that the team felt connected for the first time in a long time.
“I thought we were connected from the very first jump ball and obviously the result is a lot different than we would like, but that’s as connected we’ve been in quite a while, so it was good to have a good feeling out there.”
Perhaps getting past the trade deadline had something to do with that, but regardless it could lead to some much better performances than the Lakers have had recently.
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