The Los Angeles Lakers lost for the eighth time in 10 games and fifth consecutive time on Friday night when they fell to the Sacramento Kings.
While there was plenty of blame to go around after the fact, one prominent target of criticism and ridicule (unsurprisingly) was Russell Westbrook.
A defensive sequence that occurred with a little over a minute remaining and the game tied at 114, specifically, was pointed to as a catalyst for the defeat:
What is this horsesh*t from Russ? pic.twitter.com/L4k3JXiSDb
— Richard Staple, BSN, RN🇯🇲 (@RichStapless) November 12, 2022
There is no getting around how bad of a defensive job that was by Westbrook. He literally allowed De’Aaron Fox to simply stroll to the basket untouched and give the Kings a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After the game, Anthony Davis spoke to the media and made some pointed comments about certain unnamed players’ defensive effort.
“We have our moments where our IQ is very high,” Davis told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“We have our moments where our IQ is very low.”
The Lakers big man than elaborated.
“Couple ‘my bads’ at the end of the first half, and they go on a 14-5 run,” Davis continued.
“Certain moments where we can’t have ‘my bads.’ It’s good that guys are seeing their mistakes and owning them but we gotta try to limit those ‘my bads’ to 2-3 per game.”
It’s clear what Davis is alluding to. That said, context matters. Yes, Westbrook wasn’t great defensively. But he is shouldering a lot of the offensive load for a Lakers group that is awful on that side of the floor.
Not only did he score 21 points and dish out 11 assists against Sacramento, but as things presently stand, he is also the Lakers’ best three-point shooter. Westbrook is shooting a career-high 36.2 percent from beyond the arc right now, including 52 percent over the last five games.
Of all the players on Los Angeles’ roster, Westbrook has made the most three-pointers. Yes, really.
So while he certainly leaves something to be desired on one end of the floor, at least he is picking up the slack on the other. Which is more than can be said for a lot of players currently on the Lakers’ roster.
In recent days L.A. has been linked to three prominent free agents who would allegedly bring some sharpshooting to the roster. That would certainly help things in terms of floor spacing.
Beyond that, clarity has also emerged over the past week on why the Lakers don’t want Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.
The video speaks for itself. Jokic is an MVP on and off the court. https://t.co/7MmyhGX8nG
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 11, 2022
It will be interesting to see where the team goes from here. Westbrook is playing well, and yet despite that, they are still losing. How do you fix that?
The next few weeks will be telling. If L.A. can turn things around, the early-season struggles will be moot and forgotten.
Should things continue down their current path, though – it’s hard to see how the Lakers don’t just blow this whole thing up and start anew.