Halfway through Tuesday’s game Lakers vs. Knicks game, Russell Westbrook looked set for another frustrating outing. Through the first two periods, Westbrook had as many turnovers (5) as he had field goal attempts and assists, and went into halftime with just six points, albeit while also grabbing eight rebounds.
But a switch flipped for himself and the Lakers during the break and — behind a sterling second half from Westbrook — the team was able to roar back into the game before eventually running out of gas late. The enigmatic guard led the Lakers with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists while turning the ball over just once.
Considering the drastic swing midway through the game, Westbrook was asked postgame about his turnovers — which have been a struggle at times this season — and what changed in the two halves.
But Westbrook wasn’t having it.
“It’s funny you mention turnovers,” Westbrook said. “I haven’t heard you ask me that question in about five games. You know why? Hahahaha. It’s funny. You guys are funny, man. It’s just easy reads. I got five in the first half and had one in the second, so I know I made an adjustment and did a good job of picking my spots and being aggressive and looking to score instead of jumping in the air and making passes.
“That’s an easy fix for me,” Westbrook continued. “I know when I’m making those mistakes and making those (bad) turnovers. I mean, the one I stepped out of bounds, the one I got before the half, so three of them are kind of like, if you’re actually watching the game, you’ll kind of be like ‘well, OK.’ Because there are three of them I kind of threw away. So I’ll take those three. But other than that, I’ll be fine.”
The entire exchange can be seen starting around the 2:10 mark of the clip below:
To Westbrook’s point, he had not had an issue with turnovers in recent games. In the four games prior to Tuesday, Westbrook had committed just three turnovers per game, a far cry from his early-season struggles in which he was averaging six per contest over the first five games of the year.
But even if Westbrook can explain away his turnovers, they still happened, and it’s an issue he’s constantly fighting this year, making it a fair question to be asked. Fortunately, the first half on Tuesday aside, it does appear that the number of giveaways is coming down this season after a rather alarming start. He is now only second in the league in turnovers per game (4.9), behind former teammate James Harden (5), so that’s progress.
And if Westbrook can play more halves like he did in the second half on Tuesday — and like his fourth quarter on Sunday — then he could be turning some kind of corner for the purple and gold.