LeBron James praised Russell Westbrook's performance off the bench after the team's 111-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday at Target Center.
Westbrook had 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes as a reserve. He finished with a plus/minus of zero, whereas the starters all finished anywhere from minus-three to minus-23.
The nine-time All-Star entered the game averaging 10.3 points on 28.9 percent shooting over his first three matchups, so Friday marked an improvement. His outing clearly helped a second unit that kept the team in the game. Westbrook was replaced by Lonnie Walker IV with the game out of reach in the final seconds.
The 15-year veteran hadn't come off the bench since his rookie year in 2008-09, but the Lakers made a change after an 0-4 start. They rolled with a starting five of James, Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV, Damian Jones and Troy Brown Jr., who replaced an injured Anthony Davis (lower back tightness).
Ultimately, the Lakers fell to 0-5 thanks in part to Anthony Edwards' game-high 29 points. L.A. was within a possession early in the fourth before Minnesota pulled away.
L.A. will look for its first win on Sunday when it hosts the Denver Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena.