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Look: LeBron James Sends Message About Russell Westbrook

LeBron James on the court in Game 1 vs. Portland in 2020.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 18: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 18, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook has been the subject of criticism this season, as multiple media members, including Stephen A. Smith, have questioned if his gaudy statistics translate to consistent winning.

But, the Washington Wizards star point guard recently found a defender in one of the league's all-time greats: LeBron James.

With James still out with a high-ankle sprain, the Los Angeles Lakers traveled to the nation's capital to take on the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Once again, Westbrook put on a show.

The 32-year-old point guard racked up his 31st triple-double of the 2020-21 season, tallying 18 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists in 41 minutes on Wednesday. The Wizards continued to be one of the hottest teams in the NBA, downing the defending champs 116-107.

On Thursday morning, after another stellar Westbrook performance, James took to social media to issue a defense of the nine-time All Star point guard.

“We know y’all HATE & don’t APPRECIATE but we just laugh it off! But 1 thing you will do is RESPECT IT/US,"

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">James wrote on Instagram, alongside two pictures of him and Westbrook on the court after the game.

It's hard to get higher praise from James, but Westbrook has earned it with his play over the last few weeks. He's cleaned up his shaky start to the year and has played an integral part in the Wizards recent success.

For the fourth time in his career, Westbrook is one pace to average a triple double this season. With 10 games to go, he's averaging 21.7 points, 11.2 assists (a career and league-high) and 11.0 rebounds per game. The Wizards have won nine of their last 10 and now firmly hold a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Although Wednesday's win was impressive, Westbrook and Washington benefitted from LeBron James sitting on the sidelines. The Lakers star hasn't played in a game since spraining his ankle on March 20 against the Hawks.

However, James seems close to a return just in time to defend his title this summer. With Anthony Davis back on the court as well, the Lakers will be among the favorites to win the championship.