LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 24: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers signals a play as he brings the ball up court during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on October 24, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 24: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers signals a play as he brings the ball up court during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on October 24, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Despite a loss on national television to the Charlotte Hornets, NBA fans were relieved to see a throwback performance from Russell Westbrook.

Where has this version of Westbrook been so far this season?

Brodie has struggled with the Lakers, so much so they’d consider trading him for virtually nothing. Westbrook has been so bad it’s tough to find a trade suitor for him given his contract. The Rockets would only take him with draft picks attached, and they’d like dump his contract upon arrival in Houston.

It’s rough.

But on Friday night, Westbrook played surprisingly well against the Charlotte Hornets. Without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, not many pundits gave the Lakers a chance on the road.

They all forgot one thing, however — this is why the Lakers acquired Westbrook in the first place. In games where they otherwise wouldn’t have many contributors to rely on, Westbrook has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble. He did just that to the tune of 35 points and five assists in a three-point loss to the Hornet.

Lakers: Russell Westbrook shows signs of life

Westbrook had a chance to win the game late, as the Lakers were down two points and Brodie took a pull-up three. Normally, that would be considered a bad shot for a player who struggles with range on his jumper. But given how he was playing on Friday night — and the shots he had made thus far — one chance to steal a game on the road was a surprise in itself for Frank Vogel’s group.

Stephen A. Smith, for one, was impressed with the effort Westbrook gave.

This is a night to be proud of @russwest44. That was a good last shot, based on what he had made the entire 2nd half. Here’s hoping this is a turning point for him. Impossible to root against him when he plays like that. @Lakers may benefit big time down the road.#Warrior

— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 29, 2022

Even Lakers fans, while soaking in another loss, were relieved to have a playable version of Westbrook back.

Lakers lost but THIS is the Russell Westbrook we need going forward!!

— LakeShowYo (@LakeShowYo) January 29, 2022

The 2nd half right now is the 2016-17 version of Russell Westbrook.

But here’s the issue

Russ + role players=⭐️

Russ + All-Stars=😡

— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 29, 2022

Amazing how Russell Westbrook looks like Russell Westbrook with his own team.

— SWISHOUT (@swishout) January 29, 2022

The “let’s sit AD and Bron tonight and try to build up Westbrook’s trade value so the Knicks might be dumb enough to trade for him” strategy is going great for the Lakers right now.

— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 29, 2022

Frankly, Westbrook deserved all the praise from the NBA community, especially given how much hate he’s received in recent weeks.

Soak it all in, Brodie. It won’t last forever.

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