Lakers’ Russell Westbrook ‘grateful’ as march up record book continues
NEW YORK — LeBron James isn’t the only Los Angeles Lakers player to make notable strides in the record books while the team remains pedestrian in the standings.
Guard Russell Westbrook (8,972) passed Gary Payton (8,966) for 10th on the NBA all-time list during the Lakers’ 121-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Monday night.
“If someone told me 15, 20 years ago that you were going to be the top 10 assists, I would look at them like they were crazy,” Westbrook said after finishing with 17 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds came. “In the NBA, I never dreamed of being in this position or getting to the point where I’m alongside some of the greats. I’m just really thankful and grateful for the opportunity to continue playing at the highest level and I don’t take any of that for granted.”
Westbrook was asked if he had any trash talk for the notoriously motorized Payton as he passed him on the all-time list.
“I’m pretty sure whatever I was going to say, he would answer right away,” Westbrook said. “I’m not a big trash talker, I just like to compete. But I’m pretty sure he would have talked a muddle in his time and I’d be right back with him.”
Lakers forward Troy Brown Jr. marveled at Westbrook’s passing ability.
“His ability to get the ball out of his hands so quickly [is impressive]’ Brown said of his former Washington Wizards teammate. “Russ will be in the middle of the train and just get shot at you.”
Overall, however, it was another mixed night for Westbrook. As the league’s all-time triple-double leader neared his signature stat line, he also blasted off the field 5-on-15 with six turnovers. In the fourth quarter, he was 1-for-4 from the field and 1-for-4 from the foul-line with two turnovers, and LA was outscored by seven points in the nine minutes he was in the game when Brooklyn with win the one who ran away.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham made a point of acknowledging Westbrook’s post-game assist performance in the dressing room despite the loss.
“Everyone applauded him. It’s a hell of an achievement,” said Ham. “But again, we’re playing the right way, as things like this are going to happen. Eventually, Bron will eclipse the goal-scoring record and Russ just moved into the top 10 assists leaders of all time. These things are great. It’s a huge shot in the arm for our franchise and for these guys and for us as a team, these guys individually.
“But again, we just have to get out there and play.”
The loss dropped the Lakers to 23-28 with an overall lack of consistency in their game.
“I mean, we’ve seen it when we’re able to play right and we know what it takes,” Westbrook said. “Honestly, it’s really up to us.”
James and Anthony Davis sat Monday night with recent foot injuries, but the Lakers are both expecting Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. Swingman Austin Reaves, out since Jan. 4 with a hamstring injury, could also return to the lineup during the five-game road trip in LA, completing the roster for the first time in a long time.
Thomas Bryant, who was a bright spot against the Nets with 18 points in 7-for-8 shooting and nine rebounds, said post-game recognition of Westbrook’s career achievement was a good way to turn the page and look ahead with optimism.
“It’s a positive start,” Bryant said. “10th all-time. Top 10. C’mon. That’s bloody amazing, right there. That’s good positivity for the next game. We can’t really hang our heads on this one. We have a certain positivity that comes from it. “
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/35561451/lakers-russell-westbrook-grateful-march-record-book-continues Lakers’ Russell Westbrook ‘grateful’ as march up record book continues