Russell Westbrook is thriving with the Houston Rockets, making their big four-team trade involving Clint Capela look like a masterstroke. However, the dominant 121-111 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers meant something more for the Brodie.

Westbrook is a Los Angeles native and mourned with the rest of the city when Kobe Bryant passed away. This is the first game he played at Staples Center after Kobe passed away, and he understandably was mourning with the rest of Laker Nation during the game.

Unlike most fans, his connection with Bryant was more of a personal one. He became close with the future Hall of Famer and had a genuine friendship with him. He revealed his personal ties on a Bleacher Report video.

The Rockets point guard shared that his solid 41-point performance in front of his hometown crowd was all dedicated to the Black Mamba.

“It’s a blessing that I don’t take none of this game for granted. Kobe was a mentor a friend, a brother to me. Every time I step on this floor, it’s definitely going out to him.”

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Westbrook played with a fire that was the Kobe way. He shot incredibly well, making 60% of his 28 attempts. His eight rebounds, five assists, and steal was also more than enough to pick up on James Harden’s poor night.

Moreover, the game signified that the Rockets can still thrive without a true center in their lineup. There wasn’t any true center on the floor for Houston, but they managed to keep up with the Lakers and finish with a comfortable ten-point cushion.

This is a great albeit bittersweet win for Westbrook. Given how big an impact Kobe had in his life, it’s possible to see more of these performances in the future.