NEW YORK – Russell Westbrook was huge in the second half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-100 loss to the New York Knicks, scoring 25 of the 31 points that remained high in his game to get his team back in after the break To bring a game that left it behind by up to 25 points in the first half.
The thing is, LA had to make up for that deficit in part because of Westbrook’s first-half game. He had six points in 1v5 shooting and five ball losses before the break.
“He just clicks,” said Anthony Davis of Westbrook’s midgame adjustments. “I don’t know if he sees a match he likes or if someone is talking to him on the other team or to a fan. I’m not sure. But whatever it is, we just need it for the whole game, because it helps us. ” . “
Westbrook was jailed in the third quarter, scoring 18 points in 7v10 with three assists, two rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. The Lakers topped the Knicks by 10 during that period.
He played well in game four too, scoring seven points in a 3-2 shootout with three rebounds and two assists, but it was a different story for the rest of the team. The Lakers shot 5-for-19 out of the field (2-for-11 out of 3) and failed to complete the comeback.
Avery Bradley (15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals) said the late game flameout was due to all the energy the team had to put into digging out of their early hole.
“We fought and fought to get back in the game,” said Bradley. “I have a feeling that if we do our game plan better at the beginning, we will not be in that position and be able to run the course.”
Westbrook finished his fourth triple-double of the season with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, but also had six turnovers. He came into play with an average of 4.9 turnovers, which was the second worst in the league, only behind James Harden of Brooklyn Nets (5.0).
Westbrook took offense on a series of questions about his post-game sales.
“It’s weird that you mention sales,” he said. “I haven’t heard you ask me that question in about five games.
In fact, Westbrook had 12 total sales in the four games prior to Tuesday night’s loss. In the four previous games he had a total of 27 sales.
“It’s funny,” Westbrook said after faking a laugh. “You’re funny, man. It’s easy reading. I had five [turnovers] I had one in the first half in the second. So I know I made an adjustment and did a good job picking my spots, being aggressive and scoring instead of jumping in the air and making passes.
“So, like I said, it’s an easy fix for me. And I know when I’m making these mistakes and making these sales. I mean, the one that I stepped out of bounds and got one halfway through. They say if you actually see the game you’d say, ‘Okay, that’s different.’ I somehow threw away three of them. So I’ll take these three. But otherwise I’ll be fine. “
Davis believes part of Westbrook’s initial problems came from trying to force-feed his teammates.
“Russ has to keep doing what he does no matter who’s on the ground. To be himself,” said Davis. “I tell him before every game: ‘Don’t be anyone but yourself. That’s why we brought you here.’ I think he often tries to get passive and play basketball, looking for other guys, which is great but kind of gets him out of rhythm. “
Westbrook made a similar assessment.
“I thought I wasn’t super aggressive in the first half and tried to find my reads,” he said. “And in the third we had to kick off aggressively and tried to find ways to be aggressive.”
The loss dropped LA to 9-10. Westbrook will have to make further adjustments when the Lakers end their five-game road trip in Indianapolis and LeBron James returns from his suspension for one game.
Westbrook and James have only played eight games together this season, with LA going 5-3, including Sunday’s Detroit comeback triggered by Westbrook after James was kicked out.
“We’re finding ways in which he is really comfortable and trying to minimize ways in which he got into trouble,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “And I think that’s all part of the integration process that there will be some growing pains early on. But we’ll find out and it brings great competitive spirit in the absence of ‘Bron when we’re understaffed and really want each other.” to victory in Detroit and did almost the same thing tonight. We just came up short. “