Russell Westbrook Did It Again

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Credit where credit is due-- Russell Westbrook has done what the Los Angeles Lakers asked him to do so far this year. The former MVP took his move to the bench in stride and didn't complain. He found the necessary balance of dominating the ball with the second unit and giving it up when he's sharing the court with LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis. He's putting effort into the defensive end. There are still lowlights but Westbrook, at least outwardly, has embraced his role as a complementary piece to his team.

But this is still Russell Westbrook we're talking about and every once in awhile he forgets everything he's taught himself. Such was the case last night when he hijacked the Lakers' final possession against the Philadelphia 76ers. Los Angeles was down by one point and Westbrook dribbled around for five seconds before trying (and failing) to drive around Joel Embiid before hurling the basketball into the side of the rim, effectively ending the game.

Role player Westbrook would have passed that ball or at least made a move earlier in the shot clock so a teammate could make something happen if he couldn't. But the man with the ball in those final 11 seconds was not Westbrook the bench guy. It was Westbrook the MVP. The version of Westbrook we saw most of last season, the player who could not accept that he no longer was capable of bending everything in front of him to his will. The guy who would regularly hijack possessions just like this to do something he could not do.

It seems like Westbrook will never be able to shake that alternate ego. To the great cost of his team, as you can see. Even prime Westbrook would've had trouble driving past a 7-foot-2 behemoth like Embiid. When this Westbrook tries that, it leads to whatever the hell that was.

To top things off, Westbrook blamed the disastrous sequence on an uncalled foul and came prepared with a screenshot to show reporters as proof after the game.

That might be true but there were, like, eight seconds leading up to that moment where Westbrook could have done anything other than dribble the ball and probably could've found a better outcome. But he had to be the hero. Again. And the Lakers earned another loss as a result.