The Lakers continued their trend of being consistently inconsistent on Sunday in Miami. Miami scorched Los Angeles in the first and took a 69-52 lead into the half. The lacksadalsicle Lakers woke up in the fourth and outscored the Heat 37-24. It was far too late. Russell Westbrook thinks the key to the Lakers routinely winning games is their effort.
“ Just play harder. We weren’t playing hard enough. When we decide to play hard, you see the difference. In this league, it does’t matter what a team runs. If somebody is playing hard than you, you’re going to know right away. When we decided to step up our intensity on both ends…how we’re supposed to play, you see the results.”
Westbrook was big part of the Lakers last-ditch effort in the fourth to scrape out a win after trailing for virtually the entire game. The guard had nine points, two assists, four rebounds, and most importantly, just one turnover.
Westbrook’s comments echo Carmelo Anthony’s sentiments from the Lakers win over the Magic the game prior.
Far too often, the veteran laden Lakers have looked old and sluggish defensively. Their porous defense yielded a season high 11 first-half three pointers against Miami. The Heat shot 57.8% from the floor and the Lakers dug a first half hole they couldn’t effort out of.
Westbrook and the Lakers can’t expect to win games by playing hard for a single quarter. Especially against a quality opponent like the Miami Heat. Through Sunday, the Heat are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference (30-17).
Sunday’s fourth quarter was encouraging for the Lakers. However, there are no moral victories for a Lakers team that was supposed to contend for a title this year.
For Westbrook, it comes down to the Lakers demonstrating a sense of urgency on each and every single play.