For the second time in less than a month, Russell Westbrook was benched in crunch time by Los Angeles Lakers Coach Frank Vogel to finish out a game. The first time happened in a loss to the Indiana Pacers. This time, the Lakers survived an overtime thriller over the New York Knicks 122-115 over the weekend.
Westbrook struggled throughout the game, only scoring five points on 1-for-10 shooting with six assists and four turnovers in 29 minutes. Westbrook’s fourth quarter production of zero points, missing his only field goal attempt and going 0-for-2 from the free-throw line. He spent the first six minutes and 30 seconds of the final quarter and all of overtime on the bench.
The Brodie seemingly took the benching in stride, stating the win was more important.
Russell Westbrook spoke after being benched in OT vs. the Knicks: pic.twitter.com/W0bb9zi9MR
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 6, 2022
“That [fourth quarter] stretch was part of it,” Vogel said to explain his decision-making via ESPN. “I think obviously Russ was having a tough night on both sides of the ball, and Bron was really going. So I knew the ball was going to be in Bron’s hands, and I felt like we were going to get more from a defensive perspective and off-ball action with Talen, so–you just make tough decisions in the spirit of whatever the team needs to win a game.”
When the Lakers lost to the Pacers, the mood around the Lakers was more mellow, so much so that Westbrook had to appear on Wojnarowski’s podcast to clear the air before LA played the Magic.
On his fourth-quarter benching, Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook tells ESPN: “Surprised, yes. I was disappointed I didn’t go back in, but I’m more disappointed that we lost the damn game.” Story: https://t.co/KFD0RSu00G
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2022