Russell Westbrook is lastly shifting the narrative, whereas the Clippers’ dependency on Kawhi Leonard is displaying. MELISSA ROHLIN takes a take a look at whose shares are rising and whose are falling within the NBA.
Russell Westbrook might lastly be shifting the narrative. It’s early, however that’s one takeaway from the Lakers’ first win.
Throughout city, the Clippers are displaying simply how a lot they want Kawhi Leonard.
Let’s get into NBA Inventory Watch, our weekly column whose inventory is rising and whose is falling.
RISING: Russell Westbrook’s shot at redemption
There was one thing completely different about Westbrook on Sunday.
After making a layup within the second quarter, he did a shoulder shimmy. And as Anthony Davis shot a free throw within the third quarter, he confronted the group and repeatedly raised his fingers, gesturing for followers to cheer. They responded by standing and screaming.
Westbrook, who has been completely sapped of his pleasure since becoming a member of the Lakers, appeared palpably happier throughout his workforce’s first win of the season, a 121-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The ironic half? He got here off the bench.
Whereas Westbrook has stated he’s keen to do something to assist his workforce, he has made it clear that he feels otherwise – till now. Actually, he just lately stated not beginning throughout the preseason finale “completely” might’ve precipitated a hamstring pressure he suffered, a press release that led coach Darvin Ham to have slightly assembly with him.
However Westbrook appears to have had a change of coronary heart since coming off the bench the final two video games. He appears to lastly be accepting that one of the best ways for him to play his sport is alongside the second unit. He appears to be keen to place his ego apart.
Westbrook completed with 18 factors, eight rebounds and eight assists in opposition to the Nuggets, following an 18-point, eight-rebound efficiency on Friday in opposition to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He has been aggressive. He has been engaged. And it was hanging how the group at Crypto.com Area roared in approval, the identical crowd that booed him at instances over the past two seasons and hurled insults at him resembling “Westbrick.” Final season, Westbrook acknowledged that he didn‘t even need to convey his kids to video games as a result of he didn’t need them to listen to their father’s derogatory nickname. And simply over every week in the past, a video clip went viral of a fan yelling at Westbrook, ”You suck a–,” as he walked by the tunnel.
For Ham, watching Westbrook lastly take a look at ease was a large sigh of aid.
“I’m so joyful, man,” Ham stated Sunday. “I can’t even think about what that child goes by. One of many largest issues about me getting this job was for him to get that respect that he deserved as a result of quite a lot of what went on final yr was not his fault. And all the things, all the blame, was positioned on him.
“And so I instructed him, ‘Man, simply hearken to me. Consider in me, bro. I‘m gonna put you able to succeed with the group. However you need to put the group first. It could’t be about me or I or mine. It’s gotta be us, ours, we.’ And he’s accomplished that.”
Westbrook had a shaky begin to the season. In a single loss, he shot 0-for-11 from the sphere. In one other, he took an extremely unwise jumper with the Lakers up by one level with 27.3 seconds left (18 on the shot clock) that led LeBron James to visibly present frustration and Lakers play-by-play broadcaster, Invoice Macdonald, to exclaim, “No, Russ, no.”
However with Westbrook coming off the bench, the Lakers look slightly sharper. They’ve an infusion of vitality within the type of a nine-time All-Star, who’s lastly capable of play his approach, unshackled by the constraints of sharing the court docket with each James and Davis.
The Lakers are nonetheless within the cellar of the league with a document of 1-5, but it surely‘s truthful to surprise: Is the Lakers’ Westbrook downside lastly starting to be smoothed over?
FALLING: The Clippers with out Kawhi Leonard
Leonard has been sidelined for 4 consecutive video games after feeling stiffness in his surgically repaired proper knee, and the Clippers had dropped 4 straight earlier than eeking previous Houston on Monday, 95-93. Leonard can be anticipated to overlook the workforce’s upcoming journey in opposition to Houston and San Antonio, which means they’ll possible be with out their famous person for at the very least six video games.
However the factor is, the Clippers have been with out Leonard all of final season (and Paul George for a lot of it) however that didn’t cease them from being a really strong workforce that might have made the playoffs had they not misplaced two play-in video games.
Over the past week, they fell to Phoenix, Oklahoma Metropolis twice after which have been blown out by New Orleans by 21 factors. They’ve the second-worst offensive ranking within the league (100.6) behind the Lakers (100.3). And so they’re averaging a league-worst 17 turnovers a sport.
Even with out Leonard, the Clippers are a deep workforce with a wide range of sharpshooters, gritty defenders and All-Star-caliber gamers, resembling George and John Wall. However they at the moment look as if they‘re resting on their laurels and deferring as an alternative of enjoying with the sense of urgency that we noticed final season.
“Proper now, I believe we’re simply displaying up and considering we are able to win due to the expertise we now have, due to all of the issues we now have on this workforce,” Marcus Morris Sr. instructed reporters Sunday. ”That‘s simply not the case.”
FALLING: Kyrie Irving
The Brooklyn Nets’ horrible play has been overshadowed by Kyrie Irving’s feedback about his offensive social media submit.
To interrupt all of it down, Irving spoke for the primary time Saturday about tweeting a hyperlink to the Amazon web page of the anti-Semitic movie, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” And he selected to defend himself.
“Did I do something unlawful?” Irving requested reporters? “Did I harm anyone? Did I hurt anyone? Am I going out and saying that I hate one particular group of individuals?”
Irving went on to double-down on his determination, regardless of Nets proprietor Joe Tsai and the NBA releasing statements condemning hate speech.
“I’m not going to face down on something that I consider in,” Irving instructed reporters. “I’m solely going to get stronger as a result of I’m not alone. I’ve a complete military round me.”
Over the weekend, Irving deleted the tweet, and wrote that “the ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that’s being push on me will not be justified.
Though Kevin Durant instructed reporters that the Irving drama is “completely not” impacting the workforce’s play, the Nets have been struggling mightily.
They’d misplaced 4 video games in a row earlier than beating the Pacers on Monday (116-109) to enhance to 2-5. And so they have the second-worst defensive ranking within the league (119.1).
RISING: Giannis Antetokounmpo is balling, man
There’s one workforce within the league that’s undefeated: Milwaukee. And there’s one motive: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo has been nothing wanting wonderful to open this season. He’s second within the league in each scoring (33.8 factors a sport) and rebounding (12.8 a sport), all whereas holding opponents to 32.3 per cent from the sphere. And he’s already had two 40-point performances.
To not point out, he has additionally been charming followers off the court docket. There was the time he interrupted his personal reply throughout a information convention as a result of he noticed himself in a business. “Oh, that‘’ me,” he stated, as he put his hand over his chin, watched and supplied amusing commentary.
Then, after he was instructed that he had scored probably the most mixed factors of any four-game stretch of his profession, he interrupted a reporter by leaning ahead, smiling, and asking, “Actually?”, earlier than including, “I’m balling, man!”
– Fox Sports activities US