The Los Angeles Lakers have existed for many years. 74, to be exact, if we’re counting their early days in Minneapolis. But in all of those years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a loss more humiliating than Wednesday’s collapse against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder.
LA led by 22 points after the first quarter and as many as 26 in the second. But the Purple and Gold were outscored by 24 points in the second half, falling 123-115 to the winless Thunder. At the heart of the humiliation was Russell Westbrook who, in spite of recording another triple-double, also tacked on to an embarrassing record only he can claim.
Russell Westbrook had a no good, very bad day
It’s not often where a player can record a triple-double and still disappoint. But considering Westbrook has an all-time record of 185, his bar is set a little higher than anyone else’s.
Russ finished the game with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists, notching his first triple-double with the Lakers. He was bound to reach it with ease, going into halftime with seven points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists. At the same time, LA was cruising to a 72-56 halftime lead.
But as you can suspect, everything changed in the second half. Westbrook was incredibly sloppy as LA coughed up its entire lead by the time the third quarter ended. By night’s end, the former MVP was a team-worst -12 thanks to a dismal -18 plus-minus in the second half alone.
On top of it all, Westbrook wasn’t even able to finish the night on the court. The nine-time All-Star was ejected after earning his second technical of the game, taking exception to Darius Bazley dunking with 1.5 seconds left in regulation.
“In the game of basketball, there are certain things you don’t do,” Westbrook said to the AP after the game. “There are certain things you don’t do in sports. Game [was] already over and I didn’t like it. Simple as that.”
Westbrook added to his embarrassing record
In addition to securing another triple-double, Westbrook also reached double-digits in another statistic: turnovers. Russ turned the ball over 10 times, six in the second half alone, giving him what is lovingly referred to as a ‘quadruple-hobble’.
Courtesy of StatMuse, Westbrook has six quadruple-hobbles in his 14-year career; a triple-double accompanied by double-digit turnovers. Since the three-point era began in 1979-80, only James Harden has recorded multiple such games with three. Six other players have only one.
Westbrook recorded three quadruple-hobbles in 2016-17 alone, his MVP season. He then had two more in 2018-19, his final season with OKC, before earning a record sixth with LA on Wednesday.
Turnovers have been an issue all season for Westbrook
Ever since Westbrook’s first preseason game with the Purple and Gold, turnovers have been a major cause for concern. The 32-year-old had a league-leading 23 turnovers in four exhibition contests, an average of 5.8 per game. However, the veteran point guard expressed no concern.
Russ’ fumbling problem has, predictably, carried over into the regular season. Through five games, the nine-time All-NBA selection has a league-high 30 turnovers. His 6.0 turnovers per game are second in the NBA, only trailing third-year Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr.
The turnover bug has been especially problematic in two of his last three games. After giving away the ball a modest four times in each of LA’s first two games, Russ recorded nine turnovers in Sunday’s nail-biting win against the Memphis Grizzlies. He then followed up his impressive 33-point, three-turnover showing against the San Antonio Spurs with 10 cough-ups in OKC.
It doesn’t take a basketball genius to know six turnovers per game are bad. And 10 is far worse, as it all but negates any positive contributions Russ otherwise has. Westbrook will simply need to control his turnovers if the Los Angeles Lakers are ever going to be a serious threat to win a title.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.