After going 0-of-11 from the field on Thursday versus the Los Angeles Clippers, Russell Westbrook had another bad performance on Sunday, making just 4-of-15 shots in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-104 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Still, head coach Darvin Ham elected to reinsert Westbrook into the game in the fourth quarter, and his reasoning didn’t seem to make sense.
Darvin Ham on why he put Russ back in in the 4th quarter: "Just wanted another athletic perimeter defender in there."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) October 23, 2022
Westbrook did have six assists against zero turnovers, but he didn’t seem to make much of a defensive impact in this contest.
The Lakers came out and took an early lead, but Portland took control of the game later in the first quarter. Still, Los Angeles forged a lead in the third quarter, and with less than two minutes to go, it led 102-95 and looked to be on its way to its first win of the new season.
Instead, it found several ways to fail in the clutch.
Westbrook contributed by taking an ill-advised mid-range shot with the Lakers up by one and time to spare on the shot clock. He missed, and seconds later, Damian Lillard hit a 3-pointer to put the Blazers up by two.
This loss is particularly stinging for the Lakers, as it came against a team that was eminently beatable for them. Very few expected them to defeat the Clippers or Golden State Warriors in their first two contests, but most expected them to be able to get a victory versus Portland.
With their next three games coming against the Denver Nuggets, a championship contender, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, a solid playoff-caliber team, the Lakers could easily be 0-6 by the end of the month.
There is no doubt that the calls from fans to trade Westbrook will only grow more deafening after this latest setback, especially since Westbrook contributed to it.