Russell Westbrook struggled badly in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 122-105 victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday night.
After he contributed 5 points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in regulation, Westbrook was benched in favor of Talen Horton-Tucker when overtime rolled around.
That decision obviously paid dividends for Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, as his team ended up pulling out the victory.
Westbrook clearly had a very fierce reaction to getting benched. But what about the other two members of the Lakers’ Big Three? How did they respond to the move?
After the game, Davis had some strong words regarding Westbrook being benched.
“Just stay in his ear,” Davis said in regards to how he plans to deal with his struggling teammate. “It can be frustrating. The fans obviously want to see him play better. But one thing you can’t do is put too much pressure on yourself. You gotta go out there and play freely.
“There were some shots tonight that he usually takes in rhythm, and he kind of passed up or hesitated. (LeBron) was just telling him, like ‘We don’t if you miss every one, just play. Shoot your rhythm shots. Don’t hesitate.’
“Obviously, it’s easier said than done, just because when you’re in it you don’t want to be missing shots. I mean, he doesn’t try to miss. A lot of the shots he takes are shots he can make.”
As far as Davis is concerned, Westbrook just needs to conquer the mental aspect of all this.
“He’s just gotta stay out of his own head, just gotta continue to play and do the little things,” Davis continued.
“When I was going through the whole little thing when I wasn’t playing well, I tried to always do the little things for our team, the intangibles. That kind of gets you going, gets you in a rhythm. That’s what he has to do. He’s got two days to kind of just get away and try to lock back in come Milwaukee.
“But, as a leader of the team, me, Bron, we try to continue to talk to him and make sure he’s not in his own head and putting a lot of pressure on himself.”
James, meanwhile, kept things much more short and sweet.
“I just told him to text me later,” James said after the game.
“I told him to keep going, to stop second-guessing himself. … He’s an instinctive player, with what he’s done in this league, he should never second guess himself. He’s a big-time player and I have the utmost confidence in his ability.”
It’s worth keeping an eye on where the Lakers go from here. James is obviously very responsible for LA acquiring Westbrook to begin with, but he seems to be as frustrated as anyone with his teammate’s struggles.
Even if James is on board with a trade, though – the market out there for Westbrook is slim. Only one team has expressed interest, and it would come at a hefty price.
Beyond that, all Los Angeles can really do is nibble around the edges. Essentially the front office has to keep Westbrook and then make some more minor moves. Presently the Lakers are being linked to one little swap and two ‘realistic’ contributors.
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 6, 2022
The next week will be vital for LA. Either they’ll pull something off and get the season back on track, or they’ll stick with this current roster and likely keep performing as they have up until this point.