Russell Westbrook unhappy with Lakers effort at MSG: ‘We weren’t playing hard enough’

It was an all too familiar story for the Los Angeles Lakers, who found themselves trailing by as many as 25 points in the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. 

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After coming back from 17 points down against the Pistons in their previous game, the Lakers couldn’t repeat the trick, especially without the suspended LeBron James and Anthony Davis struggling with illness.

Although they rallied to tie the game in the third quarter, Russell Westbrook, who recorded his fourth triple-double of the season, said their slow starts need to turn around and quickly.

“We weren’t playing hard enough, simple,” Westbrook said postgame. “When we decided to play harder, it made a significant difference.”

Westbrook was instrumental in the fightback after half-time, scoring 18 of the team’s 31 points in the period that allowed the Lakers to tie the game. 

He finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals on 10-of-18 from the field and 8-of-9 at the free-throw line, but it wasn’t enough as the Knicks held on for the 106-100 win to put the Lakers back below .500 on the season (9-10). 

Davis, who was battling flu-like symptoms managed just 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting, while Anthony, back at MSG for the first time as a Laker, went just 3-of-14 from the field for his 12 points as the Lakers dropped their fourth game from their past five.

“We have to have better starts,” head coach Frank Vogel said post-game. “The last two games, we’re playing uphill, and that makes things difficult.”

The Lakers have a quick turnaround tomorrow night as they continue their road trip in Indiana to take on the Pacers, where they will be boosted by the return of LeBron James from his one-game suspension. 

They will then return home to take on the Sacramento Kings, before a rematch against the Detroit Pistons, a game that is sure to have plenty of fireworks following their fiery meeting in Detroit earlier in the week which saw James and Pistons big man Isaiah Stweart ejected and subsequently receive suspensions.  

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