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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Russell Westbrook Struggles As Lakers Fall Into The Sun

LOS ANGELES — For a 32-year-old on a veteran’s team, the growing pains are clearly evident.

Through a night with a handful of heights for the Lakers, Russell Westbrook is still searching – for his fit, his shot and his rhythm. The Lakers’ 123-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns knocked out several stat lines—leaving them 0-4 this season—but none compared to Westbrook’s statline: 8 points, 3 more for 12 shootings. 9 turnover.

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Wins and losses don’t matter to the Lakers right now, but the performance of the nine-time All-Star and former MVP hasn’t yet added momentum to the Lakers’ preseason promotion as a Western Conference favorite. In two matches so far, Westbrook’s turnover (15) is more than 10 points.

Westbrook’s frustration was evident in several plays: blustery pick-and-roll passes that were off the fingers of his teammates and out of bounds; lay-ups that won’t roll; Jumpers that jumped off the rim. Ironically, he was reasonably successful beyond the arc (2 for 5), which is the area where he often receives the most criticism of his game.

But as Westbrook traveled for his eighth turnover of the game, he also shook his head. While the Lakers have touted their practices and intensity, the results on the court have yet to show themselves.

The Lakers still haven’t positioned their three stars at once: LeBron James took his Cleveland Browns off the evening after playing the Chargers at Sophie Stadium and conducting a pregame workout. Coach Frank Vogel said that James mentioned to him that he wanted to play the final two preseason games at home against Golden State and on the road in Sacramento.

Other Lakers made positive returns in the team’s latest appearance, most notably Anthony Davis. 5 for 12 off the ground, Davis reached the free throw line (8 for 11) and added 6 assists to go with 19 points, his high point of the preseason. Davis was on the receiving end of the highlight of the games so far, stung down by a lob in the second quarter from a lob from Kent Bezmore.

Carmelo Anthony also breathed life into the building with a score of 5 for 7 deep shooting nights that ended with 17 points. Combined with the Lakers’ salty second-quarter defense, he helped score a 14–0 run that briefly put the team in the Sun’s stratosphere. Coming off a double-double against the Warriors on Friday, Dwight Howard played 12 minutes displaying an energetic defense, and Bezzemore was the Lakers’ most dynamic perimeter defender, making four steals.

But aggressively the Lakers never did it. Westbrook’s liabilities contributed to a huge disparity on turnover points: the Suns won that category 32–16. The Lakers were also badly outscored in the paint, struggling to find a consistent interior presence.

Six Sons finished in double digits, led by Chris Paul’s 15 points.

Monks to memorize the remainder of the Precinct; Horton-Tucker under evaluation

While the age of the Lakers has given fans concerns about potential injuries, it is the team’s younger players who have been hit recently.

The team announced on Saturday evening that Malik Monk (a groin strain) and Talen Horton-Tucker (a right thumb sprain) would be ruled out of Sunday’s game against Phoenix. While the team is still evaluating the extent of Horton-Tucker’s injury, Monk will miss at least a week, coach Frank Vogel said, meaning he will not be available for the final three games of the preseason.

Monk averaged 12.7 points in his three preseason appearances, and scored 47.1 percent over the 3-point range. The 23-year-old is attempting to squeeze his way into the Lakers’ toughest-position battle against stalwarts like Kent Bezmore and Wayne Ellington. But Vogel said the Charlotte Hornets’ former lottery pick has given him something to think about.

“The difficult thing about our roster is that we have a lot of people that I know and I’m sure I’m a rotational player,” he said. “Does this mean that every guy is going to play every night? No it isn’t. But Malik is definitely someone I trust to be part of that rotation, and I believe he’ll give us the game. can help you win.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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