Los Angeles Lakers’ Russell Westbrook says no reaction after Magic Johnson tore up team’s efforts

DENVER — Another franchise great weighed on his disgust after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, the second-biggest loss in LeBron James’ 19-year career.

“We as Lakers fans can accept being dubbed, but we deserve more than a lack of effort and a sense of urgency,” Magic Johnson tweeted to his 5.1 million followers. “Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better.”

James, who was a team-high with 25 points and nine rebounds but was shooting 9-for-23 (including 2-for-8 from 3), left the arena without speaking to reporters. With that, Russell Westbrook had to be asked about Johnson’s tweet.

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“I have no reaction,” said Westbrook, who had 19 points in 7-for-15 shooting, an improvement on his recent shooting dip. “Everyone in this world has the right to their opinion. Regardless of what that is. You can either take it and run with it, or you can take it and put it in one ear and in the other, or you can’t respond to it.

“Magic is entitled to its opinion. And he’s not here every day. He’s not around every day. He’s not aware of what’s going on with us internally and he’s trying to figure things out. I said everyone in this world is entitled to their opinion and that’s it.”

Dwight Howard, who started at center and was no match for reigning Denver MVP Nikola Jokic (17 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds), echoed Westbrook’s opinion of Johnson. Speaking to a small group of reporters as he exited the interview room, Howard said it was significant that the former Lakers great was taking his criticism online rather than in person through a visit to the team’s practice facility.

Although the two disagreed with Johnson’s method of delivery, they seemed to agree with his actual message.

Westbrook also emphasized LA’s lack of effort as they passed 51-41 and allowed the Nuggets to shoot 23-for-40 from 3-point range.

“We just have to play hard,” he said. “Sometimes the schemes and the way you play don’t matter. Sometimes you just have to play hard. Teams play harder than us, it’s as simple as that.”

Howard supported Westbrook.

“It’s not too much I can really say about it. We’ve been saying it all year,” Howard said. “So I shouldn’t have to keep saying that. But you know, he’s right.”

The biggest loss of James’ career came in his first season with the Lakers, when LA was beaten by the Indiana Pacers by 42 points just before the close of trade, with Indiana fans chanting “LeBron will trade you” to the Lakers’ young core.

That season, the Lakers finished 37-45 and James’ 13-year postseason winning streak came to an end.

Saturday’s loss was the third straight for the Lakers, dropping them back below .500 at 21-22. According to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information, this is the first time since James’ rookie year that his team has gone under .500 at the 43-game mark of his season.

“You can’t stop believing you’re going to win and just say, ‘Ah damn, let’s give up,'” Howard said. “We know we’ve put ourselves in a pretty difficult position but it just takes a couple of games and some good energy and some positivity so we just have to stay as positive as we can.”

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