Russell Westbrook did his signature “rock the baby” celebration after tying the Lakers game Tuesday night. Then L.A.’s defense went to sleep.
Westbrook made a tough bucket over Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro to even the game at 90-90 with 10:07 left in the 4th quarter. Those would be his last points of the game.
Cleveland responded with a 7-2 run, and then the Lakers took Westbrook out. After three minutes of rest, Westbrook came back in and the Lakers gave up ten straight points.
The Cleveland run was led by Donovan Mitchell, who scored 17 points after the baby-rocking, regularly scoring around and through Westbrook.
Reddit users u/thebarrytone and u/dualdog determined that the Lakers are 1-7 when Westbrook does his signature celebration, winning only their game against the Detroit Pistons.
They also lost a preseason game where Westbrook rocked the baby in the first quarter, and the Lakers went on to lose by 40 points.
Here’s the only time it didn’t doom them:
Why is the “rock the baby” the kiss of death for the Lake Show? Probably because it means Westbrook is feeling confident, and a confident Westbrook will look for his own shot (bad) and play aggressively on defense (also bad).
The Lakers’ limited success this season has come after they moved Westbrook to the bench. Taunting the opposing team with a specialized celebration is the opposite of the mentality Darvin Ham wants.
Perhaps Westbrook could adjust his celebration to avoid jinxing his squad. What if he made a more defense-friendly gesture and mimed immunizing the baby? That shows a focus on prevention, whether it’s disease or points, and it would drive Kyrie Irving crazy.
Or he could debut a “Pass the baby” gesture, where he gently presents a fake baby to a teammate. That would show Westbrook was willing to pass, and careful not to turn over the baby.
Or he could pretend to help a baby walk, showing he understands the value of moving your feet.
Until then, the “rock the baby” will bother Laker fans more than it will any Westbrook opponent. Because it means their team is about to get rocked.