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Lakers' Russell Westbrook 'Can't Make a F--king Shot' After Going 2-for-14 vs. Kings

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 13, 2022

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 12: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on January 12, 2022 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook provided a blunt assessment of his recent play after making just two of his 14 shots from the field in Wednesday's 125-116 loss to the Sacramento Kings: "I can't make a f--king shot."

The nine-time All-Star remained confident he'll eventually get back on track despite the recent shooting woes.

"The word slump isn't something I lean on," Westbrook told reporters. "I stay locked into my craft, figure it out. I'm just in a position to try to figure out the best way to play at the moment. It's as simple as that. I'll figure it out, and that's that. ... Figure out ways to just make a f--king shot. That's it."

It's been a rough start to 2022 for the Lakers star. Here's a look at his first five shooting performances of the calendar year:

  • Jan. 2 vs. Timberwolves: 7-of-16 FGs, 0-of-5 threes
  • Jan. 4 vs. Kings: 7-of-19 FGs, 0-of-1 threes
  • Jan. 7 vs. Hawks: 4-of-14 FGs, no threes attempted
  • Jan. 9 vs. Grizzlies: 2-of-12 FGs, 0-of-1 threes
  • Jan. 12 vs. Kings: 2-of 14-FGs, 0-of-5 threes

That adds up to a 29.3 field-goal percentage, and he hasn't made a three-pointer since a Dec. 29 clash with the Memphis Grizzlies, missing 15 straight attempts over the past six contests.

The concern for the Lakers is that his recent lackluster performance has merely dropped his shooting percentage (43.7) right in line with his career average, and his three-point shooting percentage (28.8) is only a shade below his career mark (30.5).

Any hope moving to L.A. to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who's currently sidelined by a knee injury, would improve his efficiency has begun to fade.

Westbrook is still making his usual across-the-board impact, averaging 18.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 42 games, but his poor shooting and defensive struggles have pushed his FiveThirtyEight WAR to -0.6, tied for 237th in the NBA.

"Just keep working with him," James said when asked about Westbrook. "Obviously he's been putting in work, and you're going trust the work you put into it, so he's getting some really good looks. It's just not going down for him."

The Lakers own a 21-21 record and, amid injuries to James and now Davis, have rarely looked like a championship contender for any sustained stretch of the season so far.

Getting Westbrook to provide more efficient contributions at both ends of the floor would go a long way in helping L.A. reach its potential, but the recent issues with his shot shouldn't come as a major surprise given his 14-year track record of up-and-down offensive play.

The 2016-17 NBA MVP will look to get back on track Saturday night when the Lakers visit Ball Arena to take on the Denver Nuggets.