Much has been made of the Los Angeles Lakers’ early-season schedule and their struggles with it. Without LeBron James for much of the season, the Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis-led Lakers have been disappointing overall despite facing some of the lesser teams in the league.
But while much of the focus has been on the level of competition and the constant injuries, something that hasn’t been spoken about is the lack of rest the Lakers have had so far. After Tuesday’s contest against the Kings, the Lakers had two days off until taking the floor again, something the team hasn’t had since the first two games of the season. Westbrook, for one, was happy to have a little break.
“It was good,” Westbrook said after practice Thursday. “We haven’t had a two-day break in a month, so any time you get a chance to do that, for me personally to get home and chill with the family instead of coming and going, coming and going, always helps us out as players and just as men. The basketball playing will kind of take care of itself, but to kind of reset is always good.”
When a team is constantly playing every other day it can be difficult to have real practices as Frank Vogel likely doesn’t want to work his veteran team that much more. The Lakers having multiple overtime games throughout this stretch doesn’t help that cause either.
But the Lakers’ most recent contest against the Kings was arguably their best performance of the season, particularly in the second half and Westbrook hopes to build on that against the Clippers Friday.
“You definitely take some positives from [the win over the Kings] and figuring out and knowing how we need to play. And definitely tomorrow is a big game, just for us in general to create some momentum to make sure we’re heading in the right direction as a team.”
What also seems to be heading in the right direction is the play of Westbrook himself. Despite the ever-changing lineups, he has begun impacting the game positively and limiting his negative plays, which is something the point guard always expected as the season went on and he got more comfortable.
“Just natural. Only reason it’s natural for me over the last four seasons is because I’ve been playing for four different teams,” Westbrook noted. “So I have to figure out a way to be able to be effective best for the team that’s given to me. So with that is a process I never waiver from, a process where I never panic and I just constantly watch film and figure out how to better myself or my team, and that’s all I can do.
“And that’s why I never really worry about anything happening in the first two weeks of the NBA season, month, or whatever, because things can change as the season prolongs. For me as a player, as the season goes on, you want to get better, not stay the same or get worse. That’s just how I look at an NBA season.”
It’s very easy to begin panicking when things aren’t going the way everyone expected at the outset of the season, but Westbrook has always preached the idea of staying the course and not panicking, and it could finally be paying dividends.
Westbrook says approach doesn’t change with James out
The Lakers continuing to build momentum will be even more difficult without LeBron in the lineup, forcing Westbrook and Anthony Davis to step up even more. While Davis believes he must be more aggressive, Westbrook says nothing about his approach changes whether James is in the lineup or not.
“It’s the same for me, it doesn’t change,” the Lakers’ point guard said. “My approach stays the same each and every night. I kind of pride myself on being consistent in that, having the same approach, because my team and my teammates need it.”
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