Russell Westbrook’s struggles reached a new level on Wednesday.
As the Lakers struggle to get over .500, the puzzling losses keep piling up. On Wednesday, the Lakers suffered a seven-point loss to an underperforming Pacers team after being outscored 35-24 in the fourth quarter.
With Anthony Davis still sidelined with a knee injury, LeBron James played the entire quarter but Westbrook was limited to just four minutes of action in the final frame.
Westbrook, who shot 29.4 percent from the field in the game, was taken out as the Lakers trailed by just seven points with just under four minutes left, effectively ending his night. As much publicized as Westbrook’s struggles have been, it’s still jarring to see a former MVP on the bench during the crunch time of a must-win game.
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After Westbrook was benched, the Lakers cut the deficit to five before the Pacers built a double-digit lead with 90 seconds left.
Here’s why his night ended early:
Why did the Lakers bench Russell Westbrook?
After the game, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gave a pretty blunt answer when asked about not letting the nine-time All-Star finish the game. Simply put, winning was the motivation.
Frank Vogel on his decision to substitute Russell Westbrook for the final four minutes of the game: ‘Playing the guys I thought were going to win the game’
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 20, 2023
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Vogel received clearance from Lakers brass to coach Westbrook as he sees fit, even if it means benching him during crucial moments of a game. The reports of the circumstances surrounding Westbrook’s retirement came around 48 hours after Vogel’s job was reported to be in “grave jeopardy”.
MORE: Why Vogel’s job is up for grabs in Los Angeles
So Vogel is making coaching decisions with his job reportedly on the line.
What did LeBron James say about Russell Westbrook benching?
LeBron declined to comment on the negative reports surrounding Vogel’s job security, but when asked about Westbrook’s temper after the game, he responded with a question, saying “have you followed Russ throughout his career? Do you think he’d mind if Russ wasn’t in the late game? Here’s your answer.”
MORE: LeBron makes a promise to Lakers fans, promises the team will be better
What did Russell Westbrook say about being benched?
Westbrook left the arena without addressing the media after the game.
Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to reporters.
– Marcos Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 20, 2023
This season, Westbrook is averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 3.1 turnovers on 43.3 percent shooting from the field and 30.4 percent from 3.
After falling to 22-23 with the loss to the Pacers, the Lakers hit the road for a six-game road trip in which they will play several tough opponents, including the Heat, Nets and 76ers.
Lakers Calendar 2023-22
|Date||Adversary||Time (ET)||national television|
|January 21st||in magic||7:00 p.m.||–|
|January 23||in heat||18:00||NBA television|
|January 25||in the networks||7:30 pm||TNT|
|January 27th||in 76ers||7:30 pm||TNT|
|January 28||in the hornets||7:00 p.m.||–|
|January 30th||in hawks||13:00||–|
|February 2||vs. Trail Blazers||10:30 pm||–|
|February 3rd||in Clippers||10:00 pm||TNT|
|February 5th||against the Knicks||8:30 pm||ABC|
|February 8th||against dollars||10:00 pm||TNT|