Russell Westbrook played a key role in the Los Angeles Lakers’ near win Tuesday night. Nine of his 20 points came in the fourth quarter and he brought energy on defense during the comeback.
However, it wasn’t enough to close out the game and Boston’s star power took over in the end to secure a win. Jayson Tatum scored 15 points across the fourth quarter and overtime. He finished with 44 points, including a tough basket over LeBron James to force the extra period.
Westbrook believed tough shots like that one made the difference down the stretch.
“Well to answer your first question, you just keep competing and kind of figure the rest out later,” he said. “And then down the stretch, they made some tough shots when we were battling back and trying to close the game out. We had it and competed well.”
It’s been two demoralizing losses for the Lakers in three games. L.A. had a chance to steal the game against Philadelphia on the road last week, but offensive execution in overtime put those hopes to rest.
Losses like the one against the 76ers and Celtics could cause a team to lose belief, but Westbrook doesn’t think it will hinder the Lakers’ confidence.
“You have to. You’re a competitor, you should believe. But I can’t speak for everybody,” he said. “I know for myself, the moments I’ve God-willing been able to compete, I do that until it’s all said and done. But I’m pretty sure guys believe, it’s just about creating some consistency across the board.”
Most importantly though, the Lakers have shown their ability to improve. After a nightmare start, L.A. has had positive progression and taken advantage of an easier schedule. Westbrook thinks the recent performances exemplify the Lakers’ progress.
“There’s some spurts, for sure,” he said.
But, it’s not all lead to wins, something the Lakers are still looking to consistently do as January approaches.
Jayson Tatum calls it an ‘honor’ to compete against LeBron James
The history between LeBron James and Jayson Tatum is well documented.
A picture of the two in the late 2000s resurfaced when Tatum entered the league. The two then battled each other in the 2018 Conference Finals where Tatum famously dunked on LeBron. And with James nearing the climax of his career and Tatum reaching his apex, there’s a clear torch passing of sorts.
After hitting a game-tying basket over James in the Lakers’ loss Tuesday night, Tatum spoke about what it means for him to play against the King.
“As much great as he gets, he probably don’t get enough credit,” Tatum said. “But, you know, he’s someone I’m close with and have a great relationship with. I’m honored I get a chance to compete with one of the best players of all time. The way you show respect is going at somebody. That’s how you do it.”
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