Russell Westbrook says there ‘ain’t nobody better’ in the NBA when impacting from bench

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Right at the start of the campaign, when the Sixers had just traded James Harden to Los Angeles, there were major doubts if the big four would be able to coexist in the same team. While Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were both consolidated stars with the Clippers, Russell Westbrook would only need to find his place inside the formula to be impactful for the club. 

After a relatively inconsistent regular season, the L.A. squad now find themselves comfortably in the Western Conference’s fourth spot with a 51-29 record. After Westbrook returned from a hand injury, they’ve won seven of their past nine contests and are building their momentum for the Playoffs.

The former Thunder star has been making his impact coming off the bench, as this past Wednesday vs. Phoenix he produced his first triple-double with a Clippers jersey. “Ain’t nobody better than me coming off the bench, in this league,” he told ESPN after the match.

So far, the veteran guard has put up averages of 11.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game this season, and has contributed with his playmaking and aggression. The nine-time All-Star says that the secret to keep this high energy late in his career is sacrifice.

“Sacrifice,” said the former league MVP. “We’ve been talking about it before—not him coming off the bench—but just about sacrificing for one another just so we could start winning. And he did that and wanted to come off the bench so we could be better. We’ve done so much in our careers already. So I think he just wants to have an opportunity to get there and win.”

After the Los Angeles club had lost their first six contests following the Harden trade in November, coach Tyronn revealed that it was Russell who suggested he should be the one to come off the bench. After this decision, the team suddenly started to win.

“Ultimately, [it was] figuring out where the sacrifice is going to come from and who was going to take more of a sacrifice. And that came down to myself,” the 35-year-old said. “The decision came to the ultimate big goal—to win the championship.”

Westbrook just posted his first triple-double performance as a Clippers player to power his team against the Suns

It took the two-time scoring champion over a year to finally produce his first triple-double exhibition with the Clippers jersey. This Wednesday evening, Russell dropped 16 points, won 15 rebounds and handed out 15 assists in his team’s 108-124 loss to the Suns at the Arena.

“We owed it to him to make it work,” teammate Paul George said after the game, suggesting that the locker room wishes to honor veterans like Westbrook. “All of us collectively, we know what sacrifice looks like now.”

This past weekend, the L.A. squad also completed their biggest comeback of the season as they beat the Cavaliers after trailing by 26 points. The 33-year-old ended up scoring 39 points in total, alongside his 11 rebounds and 7 assists. His teammate Harden also contributed with 22 points, while Norman Powell, Terance Mann and Ivica Zubac all scored 14 each.

“It was a collective team win,” Paul insisted postgame. “I can’t take credit for none of it without them. It couldn’t have happened without those guys chipping in and doing what they do.”