The Los Angeles Lakers have listed Russell Westbrook as doubtful on the team’s injury report for Wednesday’s road game against the Denver Nuggets, citing “left hamstring soreness.”
Here's the Lakers' official status report for the Nuggets game tomorrow. Russell Westbrook is doubtful with "left hamstring soreness." pic.twitter.com/DlgFCE3QYo
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) October 25, 2022
Westbrook exited the Lakers’ preseason finale on Oct. 14 after five minutes due to a hamstring issue, though it was unclear when the injury occurred. That game was the first instance in which head coach Darvin Ham experimented with bringing Westbrook off the bench.
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A few days later, Westbrook blamed his hamstring injury on coming off the bench. Last season, he similarly blamed back soreness on being benched in the fourth quarter.
Westbrook was deemed day-to-day leading up to opening night. He has started each of the Lakers’ first three games, and has not been listed on the injury report since the opener.
Following an 0-of-11 performance against the Los Angeles Clippers and a crunch time debacle against the Portland Trail Blazers, Westbrook’s role was the focus of the postgame talk. After being inserted back into the game with 4:42 to go and the Lakers up by eight, the Lakers were outscored by 10 points, and Westbrook took two ill-advised jumpers in the final minutes, as the Blazers stuck Jusuf Nurkic on him — the same tactic the Clippers used with Ivica Zubac. Multiple Lakers’ cited “shot selection” as the reason for their late-game struggles.
Ham pulled Westbrook for the final three possessions. Afterward, the Lakers coach said he doesn’t have time to take feelings into consideration when making decisions.
Here’s what Darvin Ham told @ramonashelburne about whether he worries about Russell Westbrook’s reaction to being taken out for the final 2 possessions.
"For 1 person to be their feelings about when and where and how they should be in the game – I don’t have any time for that." pic.twitter.com/FnXeZZILJ7
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) October 23, 2022
After practice on Tuesday, before the Russ injury was announced, Ham was asked if planned on using the starting lineup in Denver that he’s used in all three losses this season.
“Not today,” he said.
Russ did accompany the Lakers on the flight to Denver, per ESPN.
Certainly, the sudden re-emergence of the hamstring injury is bound to raise questions. Just another day in the Russell Westbrook-Los Angeles Lakers partnership.