Russell Westbrook sends message to critics after first Lakers win

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Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook said he has not allowed external negativity to affect him during a slow start to the current 2022-23 NBA season.

“One thing I will never let happen is people outside of my family and people who support me take away my joy,” Westbrook told the press after Sunday’s 121-110 win over the Denver Nuggets. “I always enjoy and embrace this game and the skill I was given to be able to compete.”

The Lakers decided to leave Westbrook on the bench for the last two games as they looked for a solution amid a 0-5 start to the season.

While it’s still too early to judge, early games suggest Westbrook commanding the second unit could provide a more balanced offense for the Lakers.

After scoring 18 points in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, marking his first appearance off the bench since his rookie season in 2008-09, he had 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while shooting 50 percent. of his shots (6 of 12) against the Nuggets.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 points, while Anthony Davis scored 23 points and 15 rebounds en route to the team’s first win of the season.

“I love seeing my teammates thrive; honestly, I’m happy to see others doing well. In my entire career, what’s elevated me is seeing others doing well,” Westbrook said. “Tonight was that night where the guys were pitching and competing, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Sunday’s game represented a vision of the Lakers’ road to success, LeBron and Davis healthy and leading the first unit with Westbrook coming off the bench to handle a more dominant role when both pillars of the team are breathing.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said Russ has been “nothing short of amazing” over the past two games as he adjusts to his new backup role.

Lakers vs Nuggets: Check out the game’s bids

But moving Westbrook to the bank doesn’t solve all of Los Angeles’ problems. The roster still lacks pitchers, which is one of the main reasons the team ranks last in offensive efficiency, and depth will be an issue whenever LeBron or Davis are out.

However, Sunday’s victory over a Nuggets team looking to emerge as a title contender was a much-needed step in the right direction for the Lakers.

The team will start trying to build a winning streak on Wednesday, when they host Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

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