The Lakers got a stop with around 15 seconds left and Westbrook snagged the rebound, racing up the floor. With Joel Embiid guarding him, Westbrook lost his dribble and then drove, attempting to throw a lob to Wenyen Gabriel. It was blocked by Georges Niang and the Sixers closed out the 113-112 win.
Westbrook later said in the locker room that he was attempting a shot but was obstructed by Embiid.
“I couldn’t get my hand up to shoot because he was grabbing it,” Westbrook said.
James didn’t stick around for pleasantries with the Sixers as he usually does. He stormed down the tunnel alone after the loss — a third consecutive for the Lakers — and did not look happy with how the final possession went with the game on the line.
And James has plenty of reason to be upset that he didn’t even touch the ball with the game on the line. Like most nights, James was a huge reason that the Lakers were still within striking distance. James scored 35 points to go with 10 assists and eight rebounds, going 15-of-23 from the field.
Not to mention James was a game-high plus-19, with the rest of the starters combining to go minus-23.
LeBron Expressed Frustration Over Different Lineups
Some of the blame can go on head coach Darvin Ham, who decided to let the Lakers play it out despite having timeouts remaining. Considering the closing group has been different basically game-to-game, a called play might have got the Lakers a better look.
Ham expressed after the game that he had no regrets about the situation.
“I’ll take that scenario every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” he told reporters.
Some of the Lakers’ failures late in games have to do with chemistry due to the multiple injuries the LA is dealing with. The Lakers were missing Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV and Patrick Beverley against the Sixers. The ever-shifting lineups in crunch time are something James lamented earlier in the week.
“The one consistent thing that we have is a billion different lineups,” James said.
He did add that it’s not about trust but just not having a set group for those clutch situations is tough.
“It’s not about trust, because we have trust with whoever is on the floor,” James said. “But at the end of the day, teams have closing lineups. And we got so many guys that are in and out of the lineup, and right now, we got a lot of guys that are banged up. So, it’s almost like, who is in a good rhythm that night is going to be probably on the floor along with myself and Russ.”
Westbrook had a rough final possession but was solid in the matchup. He notched his fourth triple-double off the bench, scoring 20 points with 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Westbrook Roasted on Social Media After Failed Game-Winner
Westbrook has been much-improved this season coming off the bench but moments like Sunday night’s final possession puts him in the crosshairs of criticism.
“I’ll never understand how LeBron, savvy and calculating as he is, decided the blueprint said ‘Spend your final legacy-building years relying on Russell Westbrook’s decaying corpse,'” one user tweeted in response to a video of the final play.
Others pointed to the fact that not having James involved with the game hanging in the balance was a massive mistake.
“LeBron just not touching ball there is inexcusable,” Jacob Rude of Silver Screen and Roll tweeted. “I do not want the Russell Westbrook experience anymore. Please. Get me off this ride.”
The Lakers won’t have much time to rebound from the tough loss, which dropped them to 19-24 this season. They’ll host the last-place Houston Rockets on Monday in a must-win situation.