Russell Westbrook’s stock keeps plummeting after a tough start to the 2022-23 season in his second year with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Westbrook is shooting an awful 28.9% from the field and 9.3% from 3-point range but still clocks in 28.7 minutes per game. His offensive woes were on full display on Sunday when the Lakers lost an eight-point lead after he checked back into the game late in the fourth quarter in the matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland made it a one-point game with just under a minute left on the clock. Then, the 2017 NBA MVP attempted — and missed — a baffling mid-range jumper just six seconds into L.A.’s possession, later explaining he wanted to put his team in a two-for-one situation.
The guard’s decision backfired as Portland ended up with two possessions in the remaining seconds, scoring on both plays and snatching the win from the Purple and Gold’s hands.
The Trail Blazers also mimicked the L.A. Clippers tactic from a couple of nights before and deployed center Jusuf Nurkic to guard Westbrook — daring the 33-year-old guard to shoot the ball while cramming the paint and further disrupting the Lakers’ struggling offense.
“Not really sure what to do, but just trying to do the best I can,” Westbrook said of being defended by rival big men.
When quizzed about what the Lakers need to start winning games, the guard offered just as little insight. “I don’t have an answer for that one, but just keep competing,” Westbrook said.
The playmaker added he needed to rewatch game film before he could say what did work for the Lakers on the offensive end. “Not sure,” Westbrook said.
“I have to take a look at the film and kind of see what was happening during that moment before I say something that wasn’t true.”
LeBron James dodges question over Westbrook’s crunch-time miss
LeBron James and Anthony Davis looked confused when Westbrook fired the late ill-conceived jumper in the last minute of the game. Both Lakers stars also seemed visibly upset over L.A.’s third straight loss.
But James remained tight-lipped when asked about Westbrook wanting to go 2-for-1 in that late fourth-quarter situation.
“I feel like this is an interview trying to set me up to say something,” he said. “I can tell that you guys are in the whole Russell Westbrook category right now.
“I don’t like to lose, I hate to lose at anything. I don’t care what happens throughout the course of my season or my career. I hate to lose, especially the way we had this game. But give credit to Portland. You guys can write about Russ and all the things you want to try to talk about Russ. But I’m not up here to do that. I won’t do it, I’ve said it over and over, that it’s not who I am.”
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