Lakers' LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony Defend Russell Westbrook Amid Turnovers

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives between Minnesota Timberwolves forwards Anthony Edwards (1) and Jaden McDaniels (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. The Laker won 108-103. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Los Angeles Lakers fans may be growing tired of Russell Westbrook's inconsistent play, but he still has the support of his teammates.

Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James were among the players to stick up for Westbrook after he turned the ball over nine times, including seven in the first half, in Sunday's 108-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

"I don't think we have to be on him about what he does out there on the basketball court, the turnovers or anything like that, because he beats himself up about it anyways," Anthony told reporters. "We're just there to support him, let him figure it out, and we'll be right by his side."

While James was a little more tepid in his support, highlighting how the turnovers hurt the Lakers' ability to play sound defense in transition, he said Westbrook's "presence" helps the team even on nights he's struggling.

Turnovers are nothing new for Westbrook; he has averaged at least 4.3 turnovers per game for eight straight seasons. He's been no lower than third in the NBA in turnovers over that span and trails only James Harden in turnovers this season.

Coughing up the ball a ton was more understandable when Westbrook was trying to prop up shaky rosters in the past. Playing with LeBron James hasn't curbed Westbrook's turnover habit; his 20.3 turnover percentage is by far the highest of his career. Nearly every advanced metric ranks this as the worst season of the future Hall of Famer's career.

For his part, Westbrook remains his typically defiant self. He bristled at the notion that he was not playing well in his postgame press conference.

"My game, you know, is fine," Westbrook said. "My game is not predicated on shots or if I turn the ball over. Like, I miss some shots, that's part of the game. I'm allowed to miss shots. I can do that. Like any other player, I can do that. I can turn the ball over, too. I can do that. That's all a part of the game."