At his peak, Russell Westbrook was arguably the most explosive, athletic point guard in NBA history, capable of throwing down a monstrous dunk at any point over any defender. There hasn’t been as much of that in Westbrook’s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, but against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, he proved he still has that capability in him.
In the second quarter of the Lakers’ six-point victory over the Jazz, Westbrook gave fans what may be the dunk of the season so far. The Lakers’ point guard fearlessly attacked the rim and slammed home a dunk right on top of the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert.
Westbrook was so hyped that he picked up a technical foul for taunting Gobert after the fact and he believes it helped the Lakers going into the locker room.
“I think for our team, it just gave us an extra boost kind of going into halftime,” Westbrook said. “It gives us some swagger, which we need, especially right now. It’s a good team we beat, tonight we did a good job of doing what we do best in defending and playing hard. So it was a good win for us.”
Indeed as Westbrook said, it was a good Jazz team that the Lakers defeated and it was arguably the team’s best victory of the season. Westbrook finished with 15 points and eight rebounds while again limiting his turnovers to just two, but the dunk is what everyone will be talking about in the coming days.
The fact that it came at the expense of Gobert made it that much more impressive, but for Westbrook, it didn’t matter who was at the rim.
“No. No. Honestly, no. I’m just thankful and blessed to be able to go out and compete and just as the season prolongs, plays like that, legs and stuff will be better for me,” Westbrook said when asked if the dunk meant extra to him. “Just finding a better rhythm and it happened to be Gobert tonight, but that can be anybody any other night.”
It was also good to see Westbrook finish strong as he has been inconsistent at times at the rim this season. Westbrook also iced the game with a big floater and foul with under a minute left and one thing that is for sure is that he still has all the confidence in his ability to finish.
“It’s a long season. I emphasized this earlier in the year, it Game, what game is this 40-something, I don’t know, but it’s a long year. It’s Year 14 for me, people don’t want me just coming down the paint taking off and seeing if I still have my legs. But I know what I’m capable of and what I’m capable of doing on the floor, so when the moment presented itself and being able to finish strong at the basket, it’s still something I can do.”
Vogel impressed with Westrook’s dunk
Among those impressed with Westbrook’s dunk after the game was Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
“I phrase it, you have to go smart, or go strong against Rudy [Gobert]. If you take anything weak to the basket, he’s going to swat it away, so you have to attack the basket with aggression like that, or make a smarter play with a shot fake, or extra pass or dunk off, or something like that.
“One of both of those things are acceptable for us in terms of what he have, how we want to attack him at the rim. Russ made a hell of a play, I think, you know Bron being the screener, and the attention he draws, was one of the things that we’ve really grown with over the last few weeks. That’s what we saw in that play, is they stayed home on Bron, allowed Russ to get downhill, and one hell of a finish.”
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