The Los Angeles Lakers might still have some figuring out to do.
Despite big nights from stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers blew a double-digit lead in a season-opening 121-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
James (34 points on 13-of-23 shooting, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Davis (33 points on 15-of-26 shooting, 11 rebounds two assists) looked very much themselves on the court, but it wasn’t a good night for those hoping the Lakers’ revamped supporting cast would make them an NBA titan again.
No other Laker reached double digits in scoring, and all but two finished with as many personal fouls as field goals.
The Warriors certainly opened the door for the Lakers despite all those struggles. Stephen Curry, who is again expected to shoulder the load with Klay Thompson still working back from injury, finished shooting 5-of-21 from the field. He found other ways to contribute though, posting a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals.
Big nights for Jordan Poole and Nemenja Bjelica helped the Warriors fight out of a 10-point hole late in the third quarter, but just as helpful was about as rough a debut as you could imagine from the Lakers’ ostensible third star.
Let’s just reel off Russell Westbrook’s numbers and discuss from there.
Eight point on 4-of-13 shooting, 0-for-4 from deep, no trips to the foul line, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, four personal fouls in 35 minutes. The Lakers were outscored by 23 points when he was on the floor. And he’s making $44 million this year.
It was just one game, but it was preceded by an equally rough preseason for the biggest acquisition for the Lakers’ offseason. The Lakers acquired Westbrook via a blockbuster trade, sending Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, their 2021 first-round draft pick and two future second-round picks for the former MVP.
The trade created plenty of questions about how Westbrook would affect the Lakers’ spacing, and this didn’t do much to quell them. Westbrook has long been infamous for how little he brings on offense when shooting or without the ball in his hands. He does plenty of other stuff historically well, but when your team is built around LeBron James, it’s hard to justify a point guard who has shot 29 percent from deep over the last three seasons.
Then again, part of the hope with Westbrook was that the Lakers wouldn’t have to put so much on James’ shoulders, and maybe that side will improve as Westbrook assimilates into the Lakers offense over the season. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said as much after the game, saying Westbrook needs “an adjustment period” more than anybody on the team and will get eventually get comfortable.
Either way, Westbrook will get a chance to shake it off on Tuesday in a playoff rematch against the Phoenix Suns.