The Los Angeles Lakers finally marked their first win of the season on Sunday after taking down the Denver Nuggets, 121-110. This was thanks in large part to the strong play of Russell Westbrook, who seems to have come to terms with coach Darvin Ham’s decision to bring him off the bench.
In Sunday’s win, Russ put up 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds, eight assists, and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes off the bench. This follows another 18-point, eight-rebound, three-assist performance in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It’s hard to deny that Westbrook has found his groove over the past couple of games, and according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers veteran may have just brought himself back to life with this recent development:
“If he can play like this off the bench, he’s saved his career,” Shelburne said. “That is a strong statement but that is how close it felt last week when he was reacting very poorly to coming off to the bench — with the hamstring injury and this feeling of him around the team. … If this didn’t work out, if he didn’t’ embrace his role and play the way they needed him to play, this was gonna get ugly fast. I think if he can embrace this role this way and give them what he did the last two games, there’s a role for him on this team and there’s a role for him in the league.”
"If he can play like this off the bench, he's saved his career… There's a role for him [on the Lakers] and there's a role for him in the league."@ramonashelburne on Russell Westbrook's new role as a bench playerpic.twitter.com/BmpdqO3sU4
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 31, 2022
It is also worth noting that Westbrook played more minutes than starting point guard Patrick Beverley (21) during the Nuggets win. This was also the case for Russ against the Timberwolves. It’s also great to see Westbrook smiling again, and it really looks like he’s beginning to enjoy the game he loves again.
The Lakers will now look to make it back-to-back wins with a matchup against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.