Lakers’ LeBron James marvels at Russell Westbrook’s game at age 31
The Los Angeles Lakers fell flat on Thursday night at the Staples Center. The Houston Rockets came to town and handed the top team in the Western Conference a loss on their home floor, 121-111.
Although the NBA’s leading scorer, James Harden, had a rough night offensively scoring only 14 points, Russell Westbrook picked up the slack and turned into a nightmare for the Lakers’ defense. Westbrook finished the contest with a game-high 41 points as he put on a show with his speed as he flew by defenders without much resistance.
After the game, LeBron James was asked about Westbrook’s speed and if he’s still as fast as he was at 31 years old. The Lakers superstar has no doubt, and he went on to praise his speed along with the Houston star’s intelligence.
“Of course,” LeBron said of Westbrook’s speed. “And smarter, and that’s what it’s all about. As we continue to get older in our age in this game, but we continue to get smarter. Russ is a much more complete basketball player right now. His ability to use his strength and his speed, but also do things with his brain. That helps out a lot.”
Unlike Harden, who does most of his damage beyond the arc, Westbrook makes his impact by attacking the basket and shooting mid-range shots with more of an old school feel to his game. The All-Star guard only attempted two three-pointers, and outside of hitting one of those attempts, he did the rest of his work a lot of jumpers.
“We can live with ourselves with the shots that he took,” Anthony Davis said of Westbrook. “We did have some miscommunication, but we can take him with Kuzma on him, with me on him. He came down and made a couple pull ups on me, and for me, I can live with those shots. Like Coach said, he made shots, and their other guys made shots as well.”
Westbrook was getting to the basket at will and causing a lot of problems for the Lakers defensively. He went 17-of-28 from the floor, and Danny Green admits Los Angeles failed to contain the veteran guard.
“We obviously need to do better with him,” Green said of Westbrook. “The game plan wasn’t that simple, but they all did a good job of reading it, dissecting it, and attacking it the right way. Russ got hot, hit some shots, and he attacked the rim. He got some extra-chance points, rebounds, kick-outs, swing-swing, and he hit some and made shots.”
The Lakers have hit a bit of a tough stretch as they’ve lost five of their last 10 games. Houston, however, is starting to put some pressure on the top-tier teams as they sit in fourth in the West behind the Denver Nuggets, L.A. Clippers, and Lakers.
Although the Rockets have their fair share of critics, Westbrook and Harden remain an intimidating duo for any opponent, including the Lakers.
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