Russell Westbrook sends urgent message to Clippers after injury return amid slump

The future Hall-of-Famer had a message for his teammates.

The Los Angeles Clippers fell 133-116 to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night to continue their streak of poor play. The loss, Los Angeles’ fifth-straight at home, was marked by guard Russell Westbrook’s return to the lineup after missing 12 games with a fractured hand. After the game, Westbrook urged his team to come together, per ClutchPoints’ Tomer Azerly:

Said Westbrook on the Clippers’ struggles, “Collectively, we just got to come together during tough times. Adversity, to me, is a real measure of who you are as a man and who you are as a team. I think now is a perfect time for us to be able to pull together.”

Westbrook then elaborated on what he tells his Clippers teammates as a leader, also per Azerly:

“You don’t point fingers, you don’t point blame… I think each individual, we got to look within ourselves, and figure out how we can better help our team. And I think that’s where we start… Ultimately as a leader, it’s my job just to hold guys accountable, hold myself accountable, and make sure that we stay together through this tough little patch that we’re having.”

Russell Westbrook’s return

Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots against Indiana Pacers forward Jalen Smith (25) during the second half at Crypto.com Arena
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook’s return against the Pacers was probably the sole bright spot for the Clippers. He brought some noticeable energy off the bench with six points and four assists in the first half and also helped Norman Powell produce some quick offense. Powell had eight of his 22 points in the first quarter.

After looking like he was on his way out of the NBA, Westbrook has found a home with the Clippers in his 16th NBA season. After playing 21 games with the team last year, he has slotted into a reserve role, playing 22 minutes per game. He averages 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a night. Westbrook has also started 10 games this season due to injuries in the Clippers’ starting lineup.

Los Angeles is hoping that Westbrook’s return will help the team battle through the malaise that has seemingly infected their play as of late.

After the game, Clippers head coach Tyronne Lue spoke about his team’s identity

 

“Right now do we have an identity? I think, yeah. We’re soft,” Lue said. “That can be an identity if you want to call it that. We got to be tougher, mentally and physically. But we do have an identity.”

Lue isn’t ready to say the Clippers are done, though. He believes that the team has potential to get back on track, but they just need to find their “great identity” once again.

“When we were 26-5, we had a great identity,” Lue continued. “You can’t pick and choose when you want to lead. You can’t pick and choose when you want to have identity. You can’t pick and choose when you want to do things the right way. And so just do the right things every night and everything else will fall in order.”

.