The Los Angeles Lakers have stumbled out of the gate this season, and through three games the Russell Westbrook experiment has not gone particularly well. Entering play on Tuesday, Westbrook was shooting 34 percent from the field, including 1-for-11 from 3 and 41 percent from the free-throw line.
In San Antonio, that changed. With LeBron James sidelined due to a sore leg, Westbrook posted 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 40 minutes as the Lakers escaped vs. the Spurs, 125-121 in overtime, to even their record at 2-2 on the season.
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Anthony Davis was equally dominant, posting 35 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks in 42 minutes.
It goes to show how vital LeBron continues to be for a Lakers team that needs this kind of performance from Russ and Davis just to squeak past the Spurs in overtime. And the question still remains whether Westbrook can play like this in a less featured on-ball role when LeBron is back.
At the very least, Westbrook and Davis should be staggered with LeBron and be able to ruin opposing bench lineups with their two-man game, and the Lakers have experimented with using Westbrook as a screener/short-roller for James to unleash his playmaking in advantage situations while mitigating his shooting.
Westbrook remains a blur in the open court and his zero-to-sixty bursts to the rim are still extremely difficult to defend. He had a few big-time driving finishes in crunch time, and it was good to see Westbrook get in a good rhythm on Tuesday. Hopefully it will lead to more consistent performances moving forward.