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Lakers: Russell Westbrook Labels Sunday Pelicans Game a Must Win

All Lakers on FanNation 3/24/2022 Eric Eulau
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The nature of the Lakers upcoming game against the Pelicans isn't lost on Russell Westbrook.

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The Lakers season has boiled down to trying to outpace a Pelicans team missing their franchise player. LA is just a half-game ahead of the Pelicans in the standings after losing to the 76ers on Wednesday night. As fate would have it, the Lakers play New Orleans twice in the final nine games of the regular season. 

The first of the pair will be this Sunday at Smoothie King Center. Russell Westbrook, who typically rebuffs the notion that some games are more important than others, stated the importance of the matchup.

The Athletic's Jovan Buha captured Westbrook's thoughts on the Sunday tilt. 

“It’s a game that we definitely want to win. I think if we have our mindset in the right place and do what we’ve been doing, playing the right, proper basketball, I think we put ourselves in position to be able to win the game. It’s going to be a playoff-type of atmosphere for us because it’s definitely a must-win, I believe, for our group.”

Provided the Lakers can hold onto the nine-seed, they'll host the single-elimination play-in game at Crypto.com. Based on how up and down the Lakers have been this season, it's not a lock. Falling out of the play-in tournament would be a disaster. Especially since the Spurs and Blazers are smack in the middle of rebuilds.

Westbrook's play as of late is an encouraging sign that the Lakers can hold onto a sliver of playoff (play-in) relevancy. Over his last four games, the guard is putting up an average line of 22.0/8.5/9.3 and has suddenly starting shooting efficiently. He's converting 47.6% of his threes and overall, is shooting 52.2% from the field.

Last week, Westbrook's steal and game-trying three against the Raptors was a reminder that at his best, he can be a viable impact player for this Lakers team.

If Westbrook can stay hot, the Lakers have a great chance at taking down Pelicans on Sunday. 

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