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

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

As the Lakers struggle to get above .500, the puzzling losses continue to pile 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.

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. Reports of the circumstances surrounding Westbrook’s retirement come about 48 hours after he was reported that Vogel’s job was in “serious jeopardy”.

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

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.”

Westbrook left the arena without addressing the media after the game.

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 2021-22

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