Lakers’ Vogel: Westbrook’s shaky debut ‘on me’

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — After having had a day off to digest his team’s season-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Russell Westbrook‘s debut wasn’t nearly as dreadful as it seemed.

“[Westbrook played] pretty good,” Vogel said after practice Thursday when asked how the Lakers’ major offseason acquisition looked in his review of the game film. “We didn’t get him involved enough, and that’s on me. We continue to look at situations to make him useful and not pull away from what [Anthony Davis] and [LeBron James] are doing.

“Those guys obviously got going, but I didn’t do a good enough job getting Russ going, and that’s an easy fix. Something that we’re familiar with and keep looking at every day and get a little more comfortable with it.”

Westbrook logged the worst plus-minus on the team, as the Lakers were outscored by 23 in the 35 minutes he was on the court. L.A. led by 16 in the 13 minutes Westbrook was on the bench.

James (34 points on 13-for-23 shooting) and Davis (33 points on 15-for-26) both connected on more than 50% of their shots, whereas Westbrook (eight points on 4-for-13 shooting) shot just 30.8%. His five rebounds and four assists also were counterbalanced by four turnovers and four fouls.

Davis said you wouldn’t know that Westbrook struggled in his L.A. homecoming by how he carried himself at practice.

“He was himself, as a person and on the floor,” Davis said. “He got to some of his moves, the post-ups, where he scores. Dribble back-downs where he scores and dribble pull-ups off the glass — his go-to when he scores. Talking s— to everybody and all that.

“He was his normal self, and it’s good to see that. He had a day off to reflect, get over it, flush it. And then come back to practice and get back to being himself. And hopefully it carries over to tomorrow where he can be Russell Westbrook.”

The matchups don’t get any easier for Westbrook and the Lakers. After facing Stephen Curry on Tuesday, they host Chris Paul and the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns on Friday.

Getting Westbrook going will help, especially because L.A. got some more bad injury news Thursday. Kendrick Nunn, who missed the end of training camp and was sidelined Tuesday because of a sprained right ankle, experienced soreness in his right knee and an MRI revealed a bone bruise. He will be reevaluated in two to three weeks, according to Vogel. Vogel said that Wayne Ellington (hamstring) would also be out Friday.

And L.A. was already without Trevor Ariza (ankle) and Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb) after both underwent surgery during the preseason.

Davis sounded confident that the Lakers would figure things out with Westbrook, saying it just might take some time.

“We know him as a person, as a friend, a brother,” Davis said. “We played on the Olympic team, but obviously, that’s totally different. All-Star Games, totally different. To play in a season with him, this is me and Bron’s first time. It takes time to kind of figure out — this is what he needs to draw back in or this is what we need to run to get him going. Or this is what he likes to do. He only played in three preseason games, him and Bron, so that rhythm is still coming — for all three of us. … So we’re going to make sure that we do whatever we can to try and help him speed that process up to get him going.

“But he’ll be fine. He’s just got to be himself, like I said before, and everything will work out for him.”

Vogel said he believes the same for his team as a whole.

“We’re going to have a bigger need for patience than most teams because we have 11 new players. It’s that simple,” Vogel said. “We’re very different and new to each other. So there’s gonna be more of a need for patience with our team than any.”



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