This year’s Los Angeles Lakers team is full of adventures, and none more so than Russell Westbrook.
The historically prolific, questionably efficient point guard was at the center of an embarrassing Lakers collapse against his old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Wednesday.
The game opened with an onslaught from the Lakers, who finished the first quarter leading 41-19 despite missing superstar LeBron James. Their lead topped out at 26 points late in the second quarter. Given that the Thunder entered the night 0-4 and are expected to once again be one of the worst teams in the West, the game should have basically been over.
And yet, the game was not over. The Lakers’ lead was narrowed to 16 by halftime, then the Thunder outscored the ostensible contender 41-23 in the third, taking the lead at the buzzer via this heave from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander:
Gilgeous-Alexander would finish the game with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The Thunder held the lead for the entire fourth quarter, but things got weird in the final minute.
Up three points, the Thunder inbounded the ball only for another old friend, Carmelo Anthony, to steal the ball and attempt a game-tying 3-pointer. Air ball.
On the next possession, Darius Bazley stole the ball and put the game away with an emphatic dunk. A furious Westbrook apparently felt disrespected enough to confront his old team, leading to an ejection.
Westbrook finished his night with a pseudo-quadruple-double, with 20 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and 10 turnovers, plus four personal fouls and 8-of-20 shooting from the field.
Overall, not the night the Lakers wanted. It’s been a rough start to the season for a team many expected to be best in the West. James and Anthony Davis (30 points, eight rebounds on Wednesday) remain stars, but the team’s supporting cast has so far been an awkward fit.