Frank Vogel had green light to bench Russell Westbrook

Long before Russell Westbrook was benched down the stretch of Wednesday’s 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel was given assurances that the organization would support him in taking a hard line while coaching the star, sources told ESPN. Over the past week and a half, Lakers management has told the coaching staff to coach Westbrook as they see fit, even if that means pulling him from a game, as Vogel did for the final 3 minutes, 52 seconds of the fourth quarter against Indiana, sources told ESPN. One source close to the situation described the message from management to the staff as, “You got to do what you got to do.”
Source: Dave McMenamin @ ESPN

What’s the buzz on Twitter?

Dave McMenamin @mcten
New story: Frank Vogel’s decision to bench Russell Westbrook was sanctioned by Lakers management, sources told ESPN. With the team teetering around .500 at the midway point, the staff in essence was told “you got to do what you got to do” with Westbrook – 4:21 AM

Harrison Wind @HarrisonWind
Three players in NBA history have posted 49+ points, 14+ rebounds, 10+ assists and 3+ steals in a game, per Nuggets PR: Larry Bird, Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic. – 3:31 AM

Kurt Helin @basketballtalk
Frank Vogel benches Westbrook for final four minutes of Lakers ugly loss… – 3:10 AM

Kyle Goon @kylegoon
The Lakers lost, and for the last 3:52 of that defeat, Russell Westbrook wasn’t in the game:… – 2:17 AM

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
Carmelo Anthony on Russell Westbrook not closing out in crunch time: “It’s an adjustment. I think I know what he’s dealing with. I’ve been there before. I don’t think it’s anything personal.” – 1:29 AM

Bill Oram @billoram
Russell Westbrook left without speaking with the media but LeBron sure seemed to indicate the end-of-game benching did not go over well with the $44 million man. – 1:28 AM

Melissa Rohlin @melissarohlin
Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to reporters tonight. – 1:28 AM

Story continues

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha
Russell Westbrook, who was benched for the final 3:52 of the Lakers’ loss to the Pacers, left without speaking to the media tonight. – 1:25 AM

Dave McMenamin @mcten
Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to reporters tonight. – 1:25 AM

Kyle Goon @kylegoon
Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to the media tonight. – 1:25 AM

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
Russell Westbrook left the arena without speaking to reporters. – 1:24 AM

Dave McMenamin @mcten
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” – 1:09 AM

Bill Oram @billoram
Asked why Russell Westbrook finished the game on the bench Frank Vogel said he was “playing the guys I thought we’re gonna win the game.” – 1:09 AM

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha
Frank Vogel on his reasoning for benching Russell Westbrook for the final 3:52 of the loss: “Playing the guys I thought were gonna win the game.” – 1:08 AM

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
Lakers coach Frank Vogel on not closing out with Russell Westbrook: “Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game.” – 1:08 AM

StatMuse @statmuse
Russell Westbrook is shooting 32% and 25% from three in 2022. – 1:03 AM

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix
The Lakers overpaid for AD (when they had all the leverage to make a better trade), refused to include THT in a deal for Kyle Lowry and made the bonkers Westbrook trade when other options (Hield or, you know, do nothing) made more sense. That’s why they are in this mess. – 1:02 AM

Bill Oram @billoram
Frank Vogel leaves Russell Westbrook on the bench at the end of a tight game when his coaching future is, as @theathletic reported yesterday, being evaluated game-by-game. That doesn’t speak volumes, it’s screaming. – 12:50 AM

J. Michael Falgoust @ThisIsJMichael
Cant figure out what’s worse: The Lakers offense or defense. Westbrook gets beat middle, doesn’t move his feet to stay in front of LeVert, reaches for a steal, gives up a layup. Terrible looks in traffic/contested. Just horrible all the way around #PacersLakers – 12:42 AM

Scott Agness @ScottAgness
Lakers led the entire half, up 56-50. They already have nine 3s, including three from Westbrook.
LeBron, who scored 39 last meeting, has 18/8/4. Brogdon led the Pacers with 10. Both Bitadze and Jackson looked good in their brief opportunity. – 11:42 PM

Kamenetzky Brothers @KamBrothers
It is so perfectly Westbrook to go from getting awarded three free throws to an offensive foul in the act of shooting. The swings are always wild. AK – 11:30 PM

Scott Agness @ScottAgness
Successful challenge for Carlisle. Instead of Westbrook shooting three foul shots, it’s an offensive foul. And Torrey Craig has the blood to prove it.
Lakers have outplayed the Pacers in the first half, and lead by 14. – 11:29 PM

Brad Botkin @bradbotkincbs
Fouling Westbrook on a 3 is a fineable offense. You shouldn’t even contest him to begin with. If your hand moves in the direction of one of his jump shots, it should be rerouted directly to your wallet. – 11:28 PM

Kamenetzky Brothers @KamBrothers
Russell Westbrook is the best player in the league since going Thanos on Rudy Gobert. AK – 11:24 PM

James Boyd @RomeovilleKid
Yo Westbrook is really 3-for-3 on 3s. Lol THT is 2-for-3. – 11:22 PM

Kyle Goon @kylegoon
Lakers are going to start the same way as they did against the Jazz, with LeBron, Ariza, Westbrook, Bradley and Dwight. – 10:02 PM

Scott Agness @ScottAgness
Malcolm Brogdon returns tonight for the Pacers. He’s starting at the Lakers, along with LeVert, Holiday, Craig and Sabonis.
Lakers going with Westbrook, Bradley, Ariza, LeBron and Dwight. – 10:02 PM

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha
The Lakers are starting the same group as last game against the Pacers:
Dwight Howard
LeBron James
Trevor Ariza
Avery Bradley
Russell Westbrook – 10:02 PM

Emiliano Carchia @Sportando
Lakers star Russell Westbrook has “zero” trade market as of now… – 1:40 PM

More on this storyline

The coaching staff had been debating whether to pull Westbrook from late-game situations for weeks, sources said, but always refrained because of worries about the lasting impact on Westbrook’s psyche. Indeed, even LeBron James danced around the subject of Westbrook’s benching, perhaps not wanting to draw further attention to the indignity for the former league MVP. “Would you think that would bother Russ not being in a late game?” he said, answering a reporter’s question with a question, rather than giving a straight answer. -via ESPN / January 20, 2022

Westbrook also had already vacated the locker room by the time his teammates were finished showering, sources said, forgoing any postgame discussion with the team. “I don’t think it’s nothing personal,” said Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony, who recently said that he can relate to the role adjustment Westbrook is going through this season, having done it himself a few years back. “It’s just something that he’s not used to. You would think somebody like that would be on the court. But with the flow of the game, there’s been times I haven’t been in the game or other guys haven’t been in the game. So I don’t think it’s anything personal.” -via ESPN / January 20, 2022

“It’s just something that Russ has got to … ,” Anthony said before correcting himself mid-sentence, “We gotta help him figure it out.” “It’s frustrating. I can tell you that,” he continued. “It’s frustrating as a player who’s trying to make it right, trying to do things right. This is new for him. This is a new situation. This is a new environment. We got to help him through it. I mean, that’s the only thing we can do, is make sure his mental is right. That’s the only thing I care about. I don’t care about any basketball stuff when it comes to Russ. -via ESPN / January 20, 2022


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