Russell Westbrook pretended to rock a baby to sleep after he pushed himself to the edge for a basket. He howled after hitting LeBron James on a backdoor cut.
And when Troy Brown Jr. hit a three-pointer earlier in the third quarter, Westbrook put his hands up — while pedaling on a stationary bike behind the team’s bench, where the rest of the Lakers’ non-starters sat.
For the first time since November 26, 2008, Westbrook came off the bench for an NBA game, fulfilling coach Darvin Ham’s vision that the former MVP would be more free to captain the team’s bench unit.
And as much as he was this season, Westbrook actually looked like Westbrook, the high-speed dynamo the Lakers have rarely seen since taking over.
But even when one big thing went well, another big thing went wrong, the Lakers being left without Anthony Davis in a 111-102 loss to Minnesota.
It’s only the second time the Lakers have started a season 0-5 since moving to LA. They also lost the first five games of the 2014–15 season before finishing 21–61.
In the final minutes, fans at Target Center began chanting “0-and-5.”
James scored 28 and Westbrook had 18 points, but the Lakers committed 22 turnovers (five from Westbrook) resulting in 25 Minnesota points.
Anthony Edwards had 29, Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and Karl-Anthony Towns had 21, 14 in fourth place.
Davis was questionable about playing Friday morning and participated in the team’s morning shootaround, but his persistent back pain made itself felt in the afternoon, knocking him out of the lineup for the first time this season.
“Well, you know that back is a tricky thing. It felt good when he woke up this morning and then went from activity to inactivity this afternoon,” Ham said ahead of the game. “And when you’re out, it’s not your bed, things might just – just turning over in a strange bed might pinch and cause discomfort.” But just standing in front of it and not wanting to put him in a make-or-break situation too early in the season. Even though this is the fifth game we still have 77 to play and obviously you will need him badly to stay healthy. So ‘Why risk it?’ was our thought process.”
Davis, who said his goal is to play all 82 games this season, said his back bothered him at training camp after the team took a bus to and from Pechanga Resort in Temecula, 115 miles from the team’s training facility located in El Segundo.
“Balled for a few hours, it kind of impacted,” Davis said earlier this month.
The Lakers hope the game can allow Davis to heal enough to play Denver in Los Angeles on Sunday.
“He feels like he doesn’t want to let the team down, always be available for the team,” Ham said. “But like I told him, ‘Don’t try to be a hero. We are all human. Try to block out the outside sounds that are there and try not to fall back on what has been happening to your body in the past few years. Just try to be your best every day. And if you can’t do that in a healthy way, then let’s move forward in the short term to see what we can do to keep you available for many, many more games in the long term than you have been in the past few years .’ ”
Without Davis, the Lakers used Brown, Damian Jones and Wenyen Gabriel to try to keep up with the Timberwolves’ oversized frontcourt.
Brown scored 12 points, hitting four of six of three. Austin Reaves also made two of three from deep, but the rest of the Lakers only shot three of 20, with James and Westbrook shooting two of 10 combined.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2022-10-28/lakers-timberwolves-recap-franchise-mark-for-worst-start Lakers lose to Timberwolves, tie team mark for worst L.A. start