Why did the Lakers bench Russell Westbrook? Frank Vogel cites winning as main reason

1 year ago 125

Written By Gilbert McGregor


Russell-Westbrook-Getty-FTR (Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook's struggles reached a new level on Wednesday. 

As the Lakers struggle to get above .500, the confounding losses continue to pile up. On Wednesday, the Lakers suffered a seven-point loss to an undermanned Pacers team after being outscored 35-24 in the fourth quarter.

With Anthony Davis still sidelined due to a knee injury, LeBron James played for the entirety of the fourth 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 pulled when the Lakers trailed by just seven points with a little under four minutes to play, effectively ending his night. As highly publicized as Westbrook's struggles have been, it's still jarring to see a former MVP benched during clutch time of a must-win game.

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After Westbrook was benched, the Lakers cut the deficit to five before the Pacers got the lead out to double digits with 90 seconds to play.

Here's why his night ended early:

Why did the Lakers bench Russell Westbrook? 

After the game, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gave a rather straightforward answer when asked about not letting the nine-time All-Star finish the game. Simply put, winning was the motiviation.

Frank Vogel on his decision to sub out Russell Westbrook for the final four minutes of the game: “Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game”

— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 20, 2022

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, Vogel was granted clearance by Lakers brass to coach Westbrook ass he sees fit, even if that means benching him during a game's crucial moments. The reports of the circumstances surrounding Westbrook being pulled come around 48 hours after it was reported that Vogel's job was in "serious jeopardy."

MORE: Why Vogel's job is on the line in LA

Thus, Vogel is making coaching decisions with his job reportedly on the line.

What did LeBron James say about Russell Westbrook being benched?

LeBron declined to comment on negative reports surrounding Vogel's job security but when asked about Westbrook's temperament after the game, responded with a question, saying "have you followed Russ throughout his career? Would you think that would bother Russ not being in the late game? There goes your answer."

MORE: LeBron makes promise to Lakers fans, vows team will be better

What did Russell Westbrook say about being benched?

Westbrook left the arena without addressing the media postgame.

Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to reporters.

— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 20, 2022

This season, Westbrook is averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 3.1 turnovers while shooting 43.3 percent 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 schedule 2021-22

Date Opponent Time (ET) National TV
Jan. 21 at Magic 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 23 at Heat 6:00 p.m. NBA TV
Jan. 25 at Nets 7:30 p.m. TNT
Jan. 27 at 76ers 7:30 p.m. TNT
Jan. 28 at Hornets 7:00 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Hawks 1:00 p.m.
Feb. 2 vs. Trail Blazers 10:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Clippers 10:00 p.m. TNT
Feb. 5 vs. Knicks 8:30 p.m. ABC
Feb. 8 vs. Bucks 10:00 p.m. TNT

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