Anthony Davis says Russell Westbrook's aggression has been key to his return to form for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, signed for his hometown team ahead of the 2021-22 season, having spent last campaign with the Washington Wizards.
The nine-time All-Star struggled at the start of his Lakers career, but is averaging 23.5 points, 8.9 assists and 6.9 rebounds across the past eight games.
He turned in a star performance on Tuesday as the Lakers claimed a convincing 117-102 victory over rivals the Boston Celtics.
Westbrook accumulated 24 points and provided 11 assists, and only Davis (24.1) and LeBron James (25.9) are averaging more points per game this season for the Lakers than the 33-year-old (20.4).
"I think at the beginning of the year, Russ was a little bit passive," Davis said, as reported by ESPN.
"He was trying to get guys involved, pass the ball. We told him, 'The more you're aggressive, the more it will open up for everyone else.'
"The last seven to 10 games, he's been very, very aggressive, and when he does that, it opens up the floor for everyone else as far as shooting.
"He's just been in attack mode. That's why we brought him here, to be Russell Westbrook and not anybody else but that."
Lakers-Celtics: Episode 370 pic.twitter.com/FV0oEl8SmN— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 8, 2021
Westbrook is well aware of the storied rivalry with the Celtics, given his Los Angeles upbringing.
"As a player like myself, you want to make sure you approach all games the same while also understanding the significance of this particular game," Westbrook said.
"That makes it a good win for us."
The Lakers are sixth in the Western Conference with a 13-12 record, while the Celtics (also 13-12) sit 10th in the East.
"We're disappointed as far as we were outhustled, out-toughed a little bit," Boston coach Ime Udoka said.
"It hasn't happened in a long time. They would put their head down, get to the basket and get whatever they wanted. We're better than that defensively, but a lack of effort and a lack of toughness showed tonight."