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NBA

Lakers "brothers" LeBron James and Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook's move to the LA Lakers has not gone entirely to plan but LeBron James defended his team-mate.

Update:
Lakers "brothers" LeBron James and Russell Westbrook
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LeBron James launched a staunch defence of "brother" and Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Russell Westbrook, insisting "we're all in this together".

Lakers Brothers James and Westbrook

Point guard Westbrook has bore the brunt of criticism during a disjointed Lakers season that has left the team below the .500 mark.

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Acquired from the Washington Wizards, Westbrook was brought in to play a part in a stellar cast alongside James and Anthony Davis, but things have not worked out too well in LA.

Westwood is averaging 18.4 points (tied 35th), 7.8 rebounds (tied 34th) and 7.7 assists (tied ninth) per game. The 33-year-old was benched for the entirety of overtime in the Lakers 122-115 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday having made just one of 10 field goals.

It was the fifth time in 2021-22 Westbrook made only three field goals or less from 10 attempts, while his numbers in points, rebounds, assists, steals, field-goal percentage and three-point percentages all rank lower than they did with the Wizards last season.

There has even been talk that the Lakers may try and find Westbrook a new home before Thursday's trade deadline, but James said the team's issues cannot be pinned on one player.

"At the end of the day, as his brother, we're all in this together," James told reporters after Monday's practice. 

"We're all in the foxhole together. There is not one guy who is doing it by themselves. There's not one guy you can blame over another guy.

"There's not one guy who gets the praise over another guy. When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win. It's really that simple."

The Lakers sit ninth in the Western Conference, three games back of the Denver Nuggets in sixth – a position that guarantees avoiding the play-in tournament for the playoffs.

Part of their issues have centred on injuries, with James and Anthony Davis having both missed significant chunks of the season.

Indeed, Westbrook has only played a combined seven games at the same time as his superstar team-mates this season.

"I haven't been part of a season like this where injuries have played such a toll, but also protocols, false protocols, positive protocols, head coach being out for multiple games," James added. 

"So, it's just challenging, a weird sort of different season for all of us. And not just [for the] Lakers, but a lot of teams in the NBA. So, it's kind of impossible to gauge, I guess, previous encounters that you've had, because it's totally different." 

Head coach Frank Vogel said he has spoken to Westbrook after his overtime decision against the Knicks.

"You still communicate afterwards and there was that today," Vogel said. 

"I've always taken pride with my teams in making sure I'm communicating with guys with whatever happens within a game.

"Obviously not every player, every game, but if a certain thing requires a reach out or just a follow-up then we'll have that."

The Lakers are back in action in a blockbuster showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

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