The Lakers biggest win of the season on Friday over the Bucks featured a number of memorable and game-changing plays, but the one that may stick out above the rest was the last one of the night. With just over a minute remaining and the Lakers up three points, Khris Middleton — making his return from injury on the night — mishandled a pass, allowing the ball to roll toward midcourt.
Russell Westbrook raced him to the loose ball, dove to regain possession, found LeBron James and set up a huge dunk that played a big role in sealing the game late.
Russell Westbrook. All Effort. pic.twitter.com/MwtjYwTj9z— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) December 3, 2022
It was a huge play that was one of the final momentum swings in a night full of them. After the contest, head coach Darvin Ham singled out that play as the one he showed the team postgame.
“The one play I showed the team after the game was just Russ diving on the floor, keeping the ball alive,” Ham said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “Bron, not giving up, not walking but pursuing the play, having his back, coming up with the ball and pushing it down floor and AD not just relying on Bron to do something spectacular on his own but following Bron up.
“All three of our big dogs supporting one another and laying it all on the line I thought was key. When we talk about winning habits, winning plays, that’s right there at the top of the list. All three of those guys involved to secure the win.”
Officially, Westbrook was not credited with a steal on the play as it went to LeBron James. It didn’t diminish his performance in any way as he had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 15 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds and zero turnovers in 29 minutes.
But for Russ, it was the things not tracked on the stat sheet that matter most to him.
“50-50 balls is an important part of the game that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet but something that, as a competitor, you want to take pride in winning those,” Westbrook said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “Like winning jump balls, getting loose balls diving on the floor, that’s, to me, a big part of the game that I pride myself on and tonight was one of those nights.”
Without much debate, Friday was the best game the trio of Russ, LeBron and AD played. The former two combined for 22 assists — including LeBron passing Magic Johnson for sixth in all-time assists — zero turnovers and 43 points. On his own, Davis scored 44 points on 18-27 shooting. For a number of reasons, Friday could serve as a memorable performance for the current iteration of the Lakers.
“The play that says, for us, Lakers basketball is Russ diving on the floor after a pass that Khris Middleton fumbled and then getting a kind-of, sort-of sealing dunk,” Davis said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “We’re just figuring it out with us three.”