Russell Westbrook Says Lakers Are ‘A Different Team’ When LeBron James Plays Aggressively
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has had his best week of the 2021-22 season, earning him his first NBA Western Conference Player of the Week award this year.

James averaged 28.3 points, 8.0 assists, and 7.5 rebounds between Dec. 6-12, recording two triple-doubles along the way. That coincided with the Lakers registering a 3-1 record thanks to victories over the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic.

James has credited sleep and watching his son Bronny’s high school team — Sierra Canyon — for the form surge. The four-time NBA champion has also pointed out he’s finally getting healthier having struggled with ankle and abdomen injuries earlier this year — which prevented him from playing in three straight games until his current five-game streak.

Asked about James’ current form, Russell Westbrook said the 36-year-old forward has lately been way more aggressive on the floor, which the guard thinks has benefited the Lakers greatly.

“He’s been aggressive making the right plays and reads,” Westbrook said. “Our team is different and tonight was another night where he imposed his will. When he’s able to do that, and he can do that every night, our team is a different team.”

Westbrook’s theory checks out upon a look at James’ blocks statistics. The 17-time All-Star has batted away the opponents’ seven shots in the last three games — almost the same number he registered over the rest of his appearances this season combined.

Westbrook thinks James’ blocks often make for an important moment during games.

“It’s a good energy booster for our team and it shows that he’s making the second effort to be able to protect the rim, especially when we go small,” he said.

“It’s big for us and I know it’s big for him. It shows that he’s able to still do that, he’s been doing it for so many years year after year. It’s good to see.”

Vogel says James inspires Lakers by ‘finding joy through hustle’

Head coach Frank Vogel has been complaining about the Lakers’ effort and energy on the floor since the start of the season. Hence, he was happy to see his team’s superstar “leading the charge” in recent times.

“He’s exemplifying, to find the right words, finding joy through hustle and how it’s really fun to pour it all out there on the floor and inspire your group,” the head coach said of James.

“The effort that he’s playing with is inspiring our whole group.”

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