How Did Lakers Fare Under Paul Westhead? How Many Games Did They Lose?

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ ups the tempo in the seventh episode by switching the focus from the behind-the-scenes to the action on the court. The episode sees the LA Lakers coping with the loss of Head Coach Jack McKinney, who is still recovering from his injuries caused by a horrific bike accident. In McKinney’s absence, the responsibility of coaching the team falls on the shoulders of Paul Westhead. However, the Lakers struggle to maintain the early trailblazing form they found under McKinney. If you are wondering whether the Lakers really had a losing streak during Westhead’s early days in charge of the team, here is everything you need to know!

How Did LA Lakers Fare Under Paul Westhead?

Paul Westhead joined the LA Lakers ahead of the 1979-80 season as an assistant coach under Jack McKinney. However, after just thirteen games, McKinney was involved in a tragic bike accident that landed him in hospital. As a result, Jerry Buss appointed Westhead as the interim head coach on November 8, 1979, just a day before the LA Lakers’ match against Denver Nuggets. Westhead managed to steer his side to victory in his first game as in charge of the Lakers, winning in the overtime with a final score of 126–122.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

The Lakers lost just one out of their next five games under Westhead when they suffered a 6-point loss at the hands of the Kansas City Kings on November 15, 1979. The Lakers’ form saw a slight dip as November progressed, with the team losing four of their last six games of the month. Nonetheless, the team soon returned to winning ways in December and won eight out of their first ten games in the month. Their only losses came against the San Diego Clippers and the Atlanta Hawks. After winning two and losing two of their next four games, the Lakers finished December strongly with three straight wins, including a 123–105 thrashing of archrivals Boston Celtics.

How Many Games Did The Lakers Lose?

During Jack McKinney’s thirteen games as the Lakers’ head coach, the team only lost three times. With a shining 9-3 record, the team was considered an early contender for a playoff spot. However, questions were raised over these chances after McKinney’s injury led to Westhead’s appointment. However, the Lakers continued their fine form under Westhead as well and lost just 5 of their first thirteen games under the interim head coach. In November 1979, the Lakers performed well as they played 15 times and won nine games, losing on six occasions. In December 1979, the team hit fantastic form and won twelve out of their sixteen games, losing just four times.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

In conclusion, the Lakers lost a total of 9 matches out of their first 28 under the guidance of Westhead. Moreover, the team maintained a solid home record in the league as they lost just twice in their 14 matches at The Forum between November 1979 to December 1979, with Westhead as the head coach. All things said the Lakers made a comfortable start to life under Westhead. The team’s form only improved as the season went on, and the Lakers clinched the NBA Championship during the 1979-80 season.

Read More: Are There Any Real Basketball Players in Winning Time?