If you don’t want to get shown up, don’t blow a 26-point lead
Russell Westbrook played the role of fun police after the Lakers’ worst loss of the young season.
Los Angeles lost 123–115 to the lowly Thunder in Oklahoma City on Wednesday after a staggering collapse. The Lakers (playing without the injured LeBron James) got out to a hot start and led by 26 points with 6:44 left in the second quarter, but then they folded and blew a lead of at least 25 points for the first time in the past 25 years.
To make matters worse, OKC didn’t need a late shot to complete the comeback. In fact, the Lakers were playing from behind for the entire fourth quarter. The exclamation point was an emphatic two-handed dunk by Darius Bazley with three seconds left after a bad pass by Rajon Rondo.
After the dunk, Westbrook got up in Bazley’s face, saying repeatedly, “Don’t do that.” Bazley’s teammates attempted to hold Westbrook back but Russ kept hounding him. Westbrook was assessed a technical foul, his second of the game, and ejected.
“How I play the game, I’m more old-school,” Westbrook told reporters after the 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.”
It’s a little strange to see Westbrook, one of the most energetic players in the history of the NBA, take issue with a guy playing hard until the final buzzer. And it’s especially strange to hear a bombastic, 32 year-old basketball player side with the dinosaurs in baseball who don’t like bat flips. But Westbrook is part of the league’s old guard now. This is his 14th season in the NBA. Maybe it’s only natural for him to look at the 21-year-old Bazley and think, “Kids these days…”
It isn’t shocking that Westbrook perhaps let his frustrations boil over after the Bazley dunk. Not only did his team crumble in the second half, Westbrook had an unfortunate quadruple double (20 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 10 turnovers). Six of those turnovers came while the Lakers were throwing the game away in the final two quarters. He couldn’t have been having fun. Bazley, on the other hand, must have been having a blast. Just listen to the way the crowd erupted after the dunk. Who cares if some guy on the other team didn’t like it? That was an awesome way to cap an impressive win.
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