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Russell Westbrook comes off bench in Lakers preason finale a

ผู้เขียน:ความนิยม:เวลา:2022-11-18 【ใหญ่กลาง เล็ก

Russell Westbrook comes off bench in Lakers preseason finale and leaves with injury

The Lakers Russell Westbrook drives on the Sacramento Kings Davion Mitchell. Westbrook came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season, but he quickly left with a hamstring injury. The Lakers lost 133-86.

(Randall Benton / Associated Press)

Guard Russell Westbrook, the former NBA most valuable player for whomthe Lakerstraded before the 2021-22 season, came off the bench Friday night in the teams preseason finale in one ofDarvin Hamsbiggest moves in his short tenure as Lakers coach.

Its not a demotion, Ham said before the game against the Sacramento Kings. Its a realignment.

But before the team could collect data, Westbrook limped to the back of Golden 1 Center because of a hamstring injury.

He didnt return to the game, which the Kings won133-86.

The move to the bench, which has been discussed since the middle of last season, marked the first time Westbrook came off the bench since he took over as the Oklahoma City Thunders starting point guard early in his rookie season in 2008.

We discussed it yesterday, and its something weve touched on during the summer here and there, Ham said before the game. Hes been a pro, man. Russ is one of the most beautiful human beings Ive ever come across in this business, on and off the floor. He totally understood. Totally looked me in the eye and said, Yeah coach, whatever you need me to do. You cant take that for granted.

Ham said the door wasnt closed on Westbrook returning to the starting lineup and it also wasnt closed on him remaining the sixth man if the coach liked how the switch looked.

But, like how things have gone for the Lakers over the last few seasons, injuries got in the way of the team being able to make a real evaluation.

Ham had said the Lakers hoped to use their preseason finale Friday as a runway into the regular season. Instead,forward Anthony Davisdidnt even make it onto the plane, his lower-back injury again keeping him off the floor. Davis missed three of the teams six preseason games because of the soreness, though the team has called it precautionary.

Lakers guard Dennis Schroder will undergo MRI testing after injuring a finger during his lone preseason appearance Wednesday against Minnesota.

The Lakers also didnt haveLonnie Walker IV, ruling him out because of ankle soreness following Fridays shootaround. The team also was without guardDennis Schroder, who was back in Los Angeles undergoing testing on a finger he injured Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ham said Davis and Walker would be ready to play when the team opens its regular season Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

Still, the Lakers wanted to proceed with Westbrook running the second unit, something he and Ham had talked about as a possibility during the offseason.

The Lakers Patrick Beverley wouldnt let a preseason finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves the team that traded him last summer rattle him.

Just some guys play better off the ball, some guys play better with the ball in their hands. And through no fault of their own, thats just how theyre built, Ham said. Youre not going to haveLeBron Jamesplay without the ball in his hands for 85% of his minutes. At some point, youve got to allow him to orchestrate. Same with Russ. And to create some type of balance, we wanted to look at this type of rotation to see if it would work for us.

With 7:27 left in the first quarter, Westbrook checked into the game, immediately playing with his signature burst of speed and force. Though he missed a pair of jump shots, he was much more aggressive as a playmaker than he was in the Lakers loss Wednesday, when he was noticeably quiet.

Darvin Ham discusses Russell Westbrook coming off the /hX6eoPUOky

But minutes after he walked off the bench, he limped past it as he went back to the teams locker room. He was ruled out of the game midway through the second quarter because of a left hamstring injury. By then, the Lakers were down more than 20 points.

It submarined the Lakers plans to try to find a role for Westbrook that works best a role that he told Ham he was willing to accept.

It was just a confirmation that this guy is who he says he is and approaches the game as a true professional. Again, he trusts me, Ham said of Westbrook. Thats not an easy thing for a guy of his caliber to do, to say: OK coach, Im gonna give it a try. Im all about the team. Hes willing to sacrifice. Im happy. So now we get to see it. His energy was great at shootaround today, and I expect him to come off and compete at a very, very high level. And Im anxious to see how it comes off and works out as well and work through it.

The exploration, though, didnt reveal any answers, the Lakers closing their preseason with just more questions.

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Dan Woike is the Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times after spending two seasons covering the league as a whole, with an emphasis on Los Angeles teams.

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