9:42 PM ET In Los Angeles When asked if he would have to deal with any fallout with the point guard as a result of his decision to sit Westbrook for the final three possessions of Sunday’s 106-104 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Lakers coach Darvin Ham was unyielding.
We don’t have time for emotions or individuals wallowing in them. After the Blazers’ victory, which put the Lakers to 0-3 on the year, Ham stated, “Like, we’re trying to turn this thing around. “I don’t have time for one individual to be in their feelings about when, when, and how they should be in the game,” the speaker said.
With 4:42 left in the fourth quarter and the Lakers leading by eight points, Ham brought back Westbrook into the game. Westbrook finished the game with 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting, six rebounds, six assists, and zero turnovers. Before Ham removed Westbrook with 12.4 seconds left, Portland had scored 10 more points than Los Angeles in the following four and a half minutes.
In the final stretch, L.A. struggled as a unit, going 3-for-9 overall and 0-for-4 from three, which helped the Lakers have a 6-for-33 day from the free-throw line (18.2%), raising their season total to 25-for-118.
With 27.3 seconds left in the game and 18 seconds remained on the shot clock, Westbrook missed one of those shots. He missed a 15-foot pull-up jumper with L.A. leading 102-101 after Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic practically urged him to shoot it by creating space with his defense.
The change to have Nurkic guard Westbrook was explained by Blazers coach Chauncey Billups as, “Putting him on Russ, we were just going to kind of play off of Russ in that time.”
When questioned about the shot, Westbrook said that he was attempting to complete a two-for-one, a move in which one attempts to obtain two offensive possessions before the end of a quarter by looking for a scoring opportunity early in the shot clock on the first one. Ham claimed that he disagreed with Westbrook’s tactic more so than the location of his shot.
Ham stated, “I just wish we would have gone straight for the rim.” Teams want you to take and give up that one shot, whether it be a long two, a contested two, or something else else. I wish he had done that because he still had a high level of explosiveness and ability to get to the hoop. especially considering that Nurkic is positioned back there with five fouls.
Shot selection is something we need to improve, said Ham.
LeBron James was questioned about his belief that going for a two-for-one when you have the lead is preferable to playing from behind. James led Los Angeles with 31 points but missed a possible game-tying shot at the buzzer.
James remarked, “I feel like this interview is attempting to position me to say something.” I can tell that you people currently fall under the Russell Westbrook umbrella. I dislike losing. I detest losing in any situation. No matter what occurs during the course of my season or career, I detest losing. and in particular how we conducted this game. But give Portland credit.
You folks are welcome to write about Russ and attempt to talk about him in whatever way you like, but I’m not up here to do that. No, I won’t. I’ve repeated it numerous times. That is not how I operate. I’m not like that at all.
But James’ reaction to a question about how he tries to trick opposition defenses later in his news conference was insightful.
‘I always have time and score and what’s going on and how the defense has been playing me throughout the game,’ James claimed. I’m not just wandering around, that much is certain.
Anthony Davis’ impressive 22-point, 10-rebound, and 6-block performance in the game was wasted.
Davis, who was clearly upset, added, “The defense has been pretty excellent, but the shot-making hasn’t.” That is the primary distinction.
James described the team’s attitude as “s—-ty,” which is to be anticipated.
The worst situation you can be in is being around a group of guys who are ecstatic after a defeat. So, that describes the current mood. However, I’ll leave my frustration and my possessions here. I’m going to leave it here until I’ve driven out of the tunnel.
With two games on the road against the 2-1 Denver Nuggets on Wednesday and the 1-0 Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, L.A. continues its early-season schedule.
Davis asserted, “There’s no way we’re meant to lose this game.” That is the source of my annoyance.