Russell Westbrook Explains How Lakers Can Adjust & Be Better Late In Close Games
Russell Westbrook, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Closing out close games has been an issue for the Los Angeles Lakers, especially recently. The Lakers’ last three losses have come by a combined 10 points as LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have been unable to lead this team over the hump down the stretch.

LeBron mentioned that with the players the Lakers are missing due to injury, the team simply has no room for error, and that certainly is a component. Quite simply the Lakers can’t afford for bounces to not go their way right now, but Westbrook is focused solely on the things the team can control and the veteran guard notices every little thing that can impact whether the Lakers come out with a victory.

“Well, down the stretch you have to make winning plays on offense and defense,” Westbrook said after the Lakers’ five-point loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. “I’ve had my fair share of close games so I understand that it’s not all gonna come down to the last shot.

“I know everybody looks at the last shot or last possession, but there’s plays that happen with two minutes to go or a minute to go so when I’m watching film and watching the games, I’m understanding that a rebound here or a tip out or box out, an open look, an extra pass, all of these things contribute to closing the game the way we want to. So that’s how I look at it and I try to make my adjustment based on when I’m in and what I can do to help.”

Every single play matters down the stretch. Whether it is a missed rotation, a bad pass, a defensive breakdown, a failure to secure a rebound, it all adds up in those last couple of minutes. It is the difference between being tied or ahead with 30 seconds left or being down four points, and too often the Lakers have found themselves in worse positions.

If even half of the close games the Lakers have been involved in had gone the other way, the Lakers would be in a much better position, but that just hasn’t been the case. All the team can do is continue to learn and grow in hopes that they will ultimately execute better the next time they are in those crunch-time situations.

LeBron James says Lakers have “zero room for error” after another close loss

With yet another close loss, this time to the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers have now lost four of their last five games, many of which the team could have won. Following the loss, James noted that the Lakers simply can’t afford to make mistakes with the limited roster they have right now.

“We’re definitely a ballclub that has zero room for error,” LeBron said after Wednesday’s loss. “Tonight, although we played a pretty good game, I mean, we only had, once again, seven turnovers. nine turnovers in two games. That is amazing. You know, we didn’t get to the free-throw line as much as we could have, but we played pretty good basketball. We did give up almost 20 second-chance points. Yeah, actually 20 on the dot. Most of those came in first quarter and first half. But we don’t have much room for error. We are limited with bodies.”

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