Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently said one of the reasons behind the Russell Westbrook trade was to add a third star who can carry the load in case an injury sidelines Anthony Davis or LeBron James.
The team’s plan hasn’t worked as planned. The Lakers have gone 9-7 when they had their Big 3 on the court. However, they have lost 18 of the 33 games during which Davis or James were unavailable to play.
L.A. suffered the 18th loss on Thursday, falling 105-87 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Knee soreness ruled James out of the clash just a couple of days after Davis returned from a knee injury. The 28-year-old All-Star collected 12 rebounds and scored 31 points while Westbrook chipped in 20 against Philadelphia.
But the 2017 NBA MVP failed to fill in for James as the orchestrator of the Lakers’ offense, ending with just three assists and turning the ball over six times. Westbrook has reiterated L.A. needs to “figure out” how to win games when one of the team misses one of its stars.
“Most importantly, I hope Bron is okay,” Westbrook said. “Hope it’s not too long. That’s the most important is his health. Basketball itself, you just got to figure it out. Not much you can say or do about it.”
The “figure it out” response has become Westbrook’s go-to answer when asked about the Lakers’ struggles. The 33-year-old guard explained the nature of the 2021-22 season has forced L.A. to adapt to ever-changing circumstances on a day-to-day basis.
“Yeah, I mean, that doesn’t always mean that we’re going to figure it out,” Westbrook said of his response.
“It happens when you try to figure it out on the fly. Sometimes it’s not how you want it to be. For a couple games, you try to figure it out with somebody out or somebody in. The next thing you know is you have to change the lineup again, so you have to figure that out as well.
“That is the nature of our season thus far and that’s why I keep saying you have to figure it out. It doesn’t mean it actually happens, it just means that throughout the game and before games or whenever that may happen, you have a next-man-up mentality.”
Westbrook thinks Davis is ‘getting back to himself’
Westbrook said Davis is seemingly getting his game rhythm back after putting up a 30-point performance in just his appearance since mid-December.
“He’s moving well,” the guard said. “He did a good job of getting to his spots with his pace and you could see him getting back to himself tonight.”
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