Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Ham, Mikan, Beverley

The Lakers picked up their first victory of the season on Sunday night, and Russell Westbrook may have finally won over the L.A. fans, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. In his second game coming off the bench, Westbrook seemed to fully embrace the role, posting 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and displaying more energy and confidence than he has in a long time.

Westbrook also looked like an effective complement to LeBron James, who scored 26 points, and Anthony Davis, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds, giving the Lakers the Big Three they envisioned when they traded for Westbrook in the summer of 2021.

The performance was enough to get the fans on Westbrook’s side, helping to change an atmosphere that has gotten so bad that at one point he asked his family to stop coming to home games. There was plenty of support for Westbrook Sunday night, and the crowd responded when he urged them to stand up and cheer while Davis was at the free throw line.

“I love seeing my teammates flourish, honestly,” Westbrook said. “I get a joy by seeing others do great. My whole career, what lifts me up is to see others do well. And tonight was that night to see guys making shots, competing and that’s all you can ask for.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • When Darvin Ham was hired as head coach during the summer, he promised to unlock the best version of Westbrook, Goon adds, and Sunday’s game suggests that moving him to a reserve role was the right call. “One of the biggest things about me getting this job was for him to get that respect that he deserved because a lot of what went on last year was not his fault, and everything, all of the blame, was placed on him,” Ham said. “And so I told him, ‘Man, just listen to me. Believe in me, bro. I’m gonna put you in a position to succeed with the group. But you have to put the group first. It can’t be about me or I or mine. It’s gotta be us, ours, we.’ And he’s done that.”
  • The Lakers retired number 99 on Sunday in honor of George Mikan, the NBA’s first star center, Goon states in a separate story. Mikan never played in Los Angeles, but he led the franchise to five championships in Minneapolis.
  • The NBA has issued a warning to Patrick Beverley for violating its anti-flopping rule (Twitter link). The league’s announcement included a video of the play in question, which happened Friday against the Timberwolves.
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