The Clippers are 2-0 since moving Russell Westbrook from the starting lineup to the bench. The veteran point guard hasn’t been at his best in those two victories, shooting just 6-of-20 (30.0%) from the floor. Still, head coach Tyronn Lue – who wants Westbrook to play out of the post and to bring more pace to the second unit – likes what he has seen from the new-look rotation so far, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.
“It’s an adjustment period for him. Being a starter with (Paul George) and Kawhi (Leonard), it’s a little different, but he’s come along great, and it’s good,” Lue said, adding that Westbrook is “the guy who needs the ball in his hands to create and make plays and in that second unit it’s been good for us.”
As Greif writes, Lue has been staggering George’s minutes in order to play him with the second unit, and that group has benefited from the chemistry that the two former Thunder stars have established during their time together in both Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. For his part, Westbrook is attempting to take his role change in stride, telling reporters that his goals when he’s on the court haven’t changed.
“Just going out and doing whatever’s best for our team to be able to win games, and that’s it,” Westbrook said.
Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:
- Even though the win came against the last-place Spurs, Monday’s 25-point blowout helped cement the Clippers‘ belief that they’re starting to getting comfortable following a stretch in which, in James Harden‘s words, it “felt like nothing could go right,” Greif writes for The L.A. Times. “We expect to win coming into games now,” George said. “I think we have gone through the rough patch of how to play, what it looks like and we found success in who we are.”
- The NBA’s oldest player is showing no signs of slowing down — Lakers star LeBron James is shooting a career-best 58.6% from the field so far this season and is coming off a 37-point masterpiece in a one-point win over Houston on Sunday. “Just trying to push the limit,” James said following Sunday’s victory, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “See how far I can take this thing. I don’t know. I mean, it’s me vs. Father Time.”
- Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times throws some cold water on the Lakers‘ win against Houston, suggesting that it’s not a great sign – and not particularly sustainable – that the team needs to lean so heavily on James to eke out victories. As Hernandez notes, the Lakers indicated at the start of the season that they wanted to limit LeBron to about 28-30 minutes per night when possible. He has averaged 34.4 MPG through 13 games and logged fewer than 30 minutes in just three of those contests. The team still hopes to reduce James’ workload once the roster is healthier, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
- While he didn’t end up playing on Sunday, Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino was active for the first time after missing the team’s first 13 games of the season due to a right patella contusion, notes Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group. Hood-Schifino appears unlikely to be part of the regular rotation as a rookie unless players ahead of him on the depth chart go down with injuries.