Lakers’ Russell Westbrook out Wednesday vs. Nuggets due to left hamstring soreness, per report

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Russell Westbrook is unlikely to play in Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets due to a sore left hamstring, according to Shams Charania. Austin Reaves is expected to start in the veteran’s place. 

Westbrook initially hurt his hamstring in the preseason finale, when the Lakers brought him off the bench in an apparent attempt to evaluate how such a maneuver would look in the regular season. Westbrook himself suggested that the injury may have been due to coming off the bench. The team is reportedly hopeful Westbrook can play Friday against the Timberwolves.

“I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight,” Westbrook Westbrook said after the fact. “Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose. … That’s something I just wasn’t accustomed to.”

Westbrook managed to start the first three games of the regular season, all Lakers losses. His performance has been one of the major sources of this team’s struggles, as he is shooting just 28.9 percent from the field and 8.3 percent from deep thus far this season. He didn’t make a single shot in Thursday’s close loss to the Clippers, and a bizarre mid-range shot attempt late in Sunday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers was the defining moment of that defeat.

With Westbrook likely out, the Lakers will have an organic chance to consider a new starting lineup with a bit more shooting. While the samples are tiny at this point in the season, it’s worth noting that through three games, the Lakers have played quite well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the floor and Westbrook off of it. They’ll need that trend to continue if they hope to defeat the Nuggets on Wednesday.

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