With the Los Angeles Lakers missing nearly half of their normal rotation, a game against the Chicago Bulls seemed like a sure-fire blowout. L.A. was crushed by the Bulls in their first matchup of the season despite being relatively healthy compared to Sunday.
Instead, Russell Westbrook and the Lakers put together a hard-fought battle that went all the way down to the final seconds. Unfortunately, two missed threes on the final possession of the game led to a 115-110 Bulls win.
Westbrook — who put up 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — had good things to say in spite of the loss. “There’s a lot of positives you can take from it,” Westbrook said of the situation the Lakers are in. “Just in my experience, you try to find ways to be able to not let this deter you. Sometimes you can play well and still lose games, so you can just try to keep your head up and stay positive and try to get ready for Tuesday.”
The Lakers guard kept things simple in describing how they can be successful playing with an “on-the-fly” lineup.
“Obviously we’re doing things on the fly trying to figure out how to play with the guys we have and people we have available. New guys are stepping in that haven’t been here so we got to do what we can and that’s it. Just go out and play hard and let the rest take care of itself.”
On Sunday, it wasn’t just the rotation that took a hit, as even head coach Frank Vogel was unable to be on the sideline due to health and safety protocols. David Fizdale took over in his place, and Westbrook was complimentary of his efforts in a loss.
“This year it’s been a lot of different things, especially for our team. But Fiz has been a head coach in this league before, he understands and did a great job tonight. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get the win.”
The Lakers are nothing if not an experienced group. While adversity like this almost never hits an NBA franchise, L.A. should be better equipped to handle it than most teams given the level of knowledge they have on the roster.
Looking ahead, the Lakers have their second meeting of the year against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, where a loss would bring them back to .500 on the season. Westbrook already laid out the blueprint to be able to compete in their games without a full roster, and they’ll need that against a well-put-together Suns unit.
Fizdale credits Lakers for effort
Even though the result was disappointing, it’s hard to be upset at the effort level the Lakers gave for 48 minutes on Sunday night. This is the silver lining Fizdale took when discussing the loss. “We came into it understanding these are not normal circumstances and everyone wrapped their mind around that coming into the game.
“We had a backup coach, we had a couple G League guys out there for us, but the thing about this team’s character is it’s a next man up mentality and they really brought the effort and a collective team energy,” Fizdale said after the game.
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