Russell Westbrook/Lakers vs. Thunder/YouTube
Entering the 2021-2022 season, the Lakers were favorites out of the Western conference. The post-season hopes may still be alive but the excitement is certainly waning. It’s been an embarrassing open to the campaign as the Lakers just can’t seem to put it all together.
The struggles continued last night with a 123-115 loss to the (horrible) OKC Thunder. Even more embarrassingly, the Lakers blew a 26 point lead, allowing the (possibly) worst team in the league to rally and win. That 26-point blunder set a record for the club. It was the largest lead given up after having a 230-0 record when leading by 25 points.
It’s chemical, really.
The concern with heavy rosters has always been mental for me. Superstars may join forces physically but getting them to play as a unit is the true challenge. That’s where I think the Los Angeles Lakers have failed thus far.
LakeShow added big names like Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Dwight Howard to their already stacked roster. You can’t forget that bringing those personalities together on the floor, to play with arguably the biggest personality in the league (LeBron), is a tall order. They’re playing independently right now but over time, they will become a unit. They have to.
It’s frustrating watching these stars shine half-dim but I must admit, it’s slightly comforting watching science win the war. Hopefully LeBron and his gang can focus more on team-building rather than roster-stacking and the Lakers can build an ounce of chemistry before Christmas. The new NBA is on the rise and these kids are looking to play team basketball. LakeShow will need to learn a thing or two from the young dogs in the league.
The frustrations of team building have certainly took its toll on Russell Westbrook. It was evident in his triple-double return to OKC (14 rebound, 13 asst., 20 points), where he ended the game in the locker room due to an ejection in the 4th quarter. OKC’s Darius Bazely scored on a breakaway dunk with 1.5 seconds on the clock. Tasteless, sure. But a player with tenure like Westbrook shouldn’t get ejected as a response.
“How I play the game, I’m more old-school,” Westbrook said post-game. “And when s— like that happens, I don’t let it slide. … In the game of basketball, there’s certain things you just don’t do. Like in baseball, you don’t flip the bat. There’s certain things you don’t do in sports when the game’s already over. And I didn’t like it. Simple as that.”
Hopefully Russ and the Lakers can turn that emotional power into some good before Santa comes. The LakeShow begin the season with an embarrassing 2-3 record.