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Lakers coach Darvin Ham to Russell Westbrook: ‘Believe in me, bro’

James Foglio profile picture
Sports Editor
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Lakers coach Darvin Ham to Russell Westbrook: 'Believe in me, bro'
USA Today Network

Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham had to pull out all the stops to help L.A. obtain its first win of the 2022-23 season, and part of his philosophy is respecting players like Russell Westbrook.

During the postgame interview, following the Lakers’ 121-110 win over the Denver Nuggets, Ham discussed the conversation he had with the nine-time All-Star.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Lakers have the 16th-best odds to win the championship in 2023. While the team is no longer winless, some sportsbooks expected more from L.A. through the first six games of the season.

“I told him [Russell Westbrook], ‘Man, just listen to me, believe in me, bro. I’m gonna put you in a position to succeed with the group,” said the Lakers coach.

“But you have to put the group first. It can’t be about me or I or mine. It’s gotta be us, ours, we.’ And he’s done that.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham is doing everything he can to help his team succeed with Russell Westbrook

After starting the season 0-5, the Lakers definitely needed the win on Sunday night. They were the last winless team in the NBA. “We needed to prove something to ourselves,” continued Ham.

“Not to the world, not the media. We had to prove it to ourselves. I feel great about how we responded throughout the game.”

In 32 minutes off the bench, Westbrook ended his performance with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Plus, the Lakers guard finished 6-of-12 (50%) shooting from the field and 2-of-4 (50%) from 3-point range.

Additionally, this is the second straight game the two-time scoring champ closed out his outing with 18 points and 8 boards. Of course, he also shot at least 50% from the floor for the first time since opening night against the Golden State Warriors.

Furthermore, at this point of his 15-year career, Westbrook might be a better player in the sixth man role. For the soon to be 34-year-old, the guard’s personal goal should be quality performances, not minutes played.

Following a shootaround on Saturday, the Lakers guard told reporters, “Like I’ve mentioned since Day 1, whatever is needed from me to help the team win, that’s what I’ll do.”

Equally important, less is more for Ham’s veteran players. In the Lakers’ first win of the season, they shot 46-of-96 (47.9%) from the field and 13-of-30 (43.3%) from downtown. L.A. came together as a team for the first time this season.

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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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