California Sports

Russell Westbrook gets benched by Frank Vogel as Lakers beaten by Pacers

As his job was in jeopardy, Frank Vogel did something that Los Angeles Lakers fans had been begging him to do all season: he benched Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter.

With only 3:52 left and the Lakers trailing the lottery-bound Indiana Pacers 101-94 at home, Vogel replaced the 2017 MVP with Malik Monk.

Westbrook proceeded to the hallway, where he waited for a few moments before returning his teammates on the bench. The Lakers (22-23) were unable to narrow the gap and were defeated by a score of seven points.

According to ESPN, Lakers management has ordered the coaching team over the last week and a half to coach Westbrook anyway they see necessary, even if that means yanking him from a match, as Vogel did for the final 3 minutes, 52 seconds of the fourth quarter against Indiana.

Controversial, but critical

Early on, Russ was hot from downtown, but his overall performance was rather ineffective. He ended with 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting while also dishing out three assists and pulling down two rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, he missed critical defensive coverages. Vogel specifically mentioned the Lakers’ guards’ weak performance on the glass after the game.

When asked why he benched Westbrook, Vogel reacted with a matter-of-fact tone: “Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game,” he stated, garnering controversy from many.

Aside from his offensive woes, Westbrook struggled on the defensive end. The turning point for the coaching staff was when Caris LeVert was blasted by Westbrook on defense for a layup with 7 minutes, 13 seconds left.

The coaching staff had repeatedly reinforced the scouting report to strip away LeVert’s right hand, and Westbrook, defending LeVert one-on-one at the top of the key, didn’t position himself adequately to stop the move, allowing LeVert better access to the lane en route to the hoop.

They had also been discussing whether to remove Westbrook from late-game moments for weeks, according to insiders, but had always abstained due to concerns about how it would mentally impact Westbrook.

Vogel’s job has been in peril since the Los Angeles Lakers were wiped out by the Denver Nuggets by 37 points over the weekend, according to multiple reports.

After the game, a reporter asked LeBron James if he knew how Russell Westbrook thought about being carted off the field. In response, James questioned the reporter whether he has seen Westbrook during his career and this season, and how he believes Russ would react.

When the reporter predicted that Russ would be disgruntled, LeBron implied that he was correct.

James has been one of Russ’ strongest supporters, and he recently stood up and criticized the referees for failing to call fouls against Westbrook, reminding them that they should offer Westbrook the same appreciation and respect.

Furthermore, it was recently revealed that James played a role in bringing Westbrook to the squad. Evidently, despite Westbrook’s sloppy game and overall poor fit with the Lakers, James has his support.

The Lakers, who are ready to embark on a six-game trip and are now ranked eighth in the Western Conference at 22-23, can’t afford to waste any more time putting Westbrook’s comfort ahead of the team’s chances of success.

Frank Vogel

Frank Paul Vogel is an American professional basketball coach who is the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association . (wikipedia)

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. (wikipedia)