At the final buzzer, the Lakers ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard 117-114 against the Hornets, but the game was probably one of the most significant of the season.
In the second end of a straight game, Los Angeles was without LeBron James or Anthony Davis and was down as many as 20 points around halftime.
In a game that could have easily turned into a blowout, Russell Westbrook had other ideas, showing shadows of his 2016-17 MVP-winning season during a second-half explosion.
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Westbrook scored 30 of his season-high 35 points after halftime, putting his name alongside his idol and Laker great Kobe Bryant. Along with 35 points, he had one of his most efficient games (12-23 FG; 3-7 3s) attempting 20 or more shots from the field. Not to mention, just one rotation.
Russ became the FIRST Laker with a 30-point half since Kobe Bryant did it in his last game 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MDndRnY8wA
— ESPN (@espn) January 29, 2023
In the third quarter, when the Lakers fought back by outscoring the Hornets by 14 points, Westbrook (14) along with Carmelo Anthony (10) scored or assisted on 30 of the team’s 36 points in the period.
In the fourth and final period, Westbrook made 16 of the team’s 29, including a pair of game-winning 3-pointers late, but couldn’t pull off the win because he missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer.
After the game, head coach Frank Vogel called Westbrook’s second-half performance “spectacular” Y “something we can build onOn the other hand, Westbrook was disappointed that the team couldn’t finish the comeback, but he mentioned that this game served as a reminder that “it’s something that when the team needs me to do it, I can still do it.”
But the question arises:
Is Russell Westbrook better off without LeBron James?
The numbers provide a simple answer: Yes.
Westbrook has played in each of the Lakers’ 50 games this season and in the 14 LeBron James hasn’t played, he’s averaging 22.6 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds in 45.7 percent shooting divisions. percent from the field and 36.6 percent from the field. beyond the arch.
On the other hand, in the 36 games in which the two played together, Westbrook’s numbers are as follows: 17.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists on split shooting of 43.7 percent from the field and 26.2 percent from outside the arc.
Clearly, Westbrook’s numbers and efficiency look better when he plays without James, as he has more ball-handling responsibilities.
Obviously, not playing an MVP candidate in James isn’t an option for the Lakers, so the team would have to take a hard look at how to split the Westbrook-James minutes, given how much each of the superstar players needs the ball. in your hands.
With reports indicating that Westbrook will remain with the Lakers past the trade deadline (February 10), recent developments, especially this game, could result in a change in strategy in which Westbrook will form more second-unit lineups with James aside.