Russell Westbrook turns on Lakers coach Frank Vogel with team in disarray


Russell Westbrook doesn’t think he’s the Lakers’ Achilles heel.

The first-year Laker has been benched for periods of time during his weeks-long shooting slump.

“You never know when you’re coming in, you never know when you’re coming out. You never know when you’re playing, you never know… a bunch of things,” Westbrook said about head coach Frank Vogel’s recent lineup changes.

“And I’m speaking for me personally, so it’s a difficult process to be able to figure out and create some rhythm and some consistency where we can actually see what we’re able to do as a team, but those decisions are made by him and his coaching staff, and you’ve got to live with it and move on.”

Westbrook’s comments came after he went 3-for-11 from the floor and sat the entire fourth quarter in Los Angeles’ 131-116 loss to the Bucks on Tuesday night. He still posted a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Russell Westbrook (left), Malik Monk (center) and LeBron James during the Lakers' loss to the Bucks.
Russell Westbrook (left), Malik Monk (center) and LeBron James during the Lakers’ loss to the Bucks.
NBAE via Getty Images

It marked the second straight game that Westbrook slid further down the bench.

Last Saturday, Westbrook was benched at the end of the Lakers’ win against the Knicks. The former MVP didn’t see a minute of action in overtime.

When asked what “benchmarks” he needs to hit to be in the closing lineup, Westbrook laughed.

“I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmarks, to be honest. I put a lot of work in. I got a lot of respect in this game. I earned the right to be in closing lineups,” he said Tuesday. “Numbers would say, I don’t have to explain that. Like I said, once again, it ain’t my decision … Unfortunately, just gotta go with and figure it out the best I can and be there for my teammates as much as I can and make sure I come into work and do my job.”

Westbrook’s shooting numbers have plummeted this season for the Lakers. He’s currently shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep.

Brodie’s benching began in late January when he sat in the fourth quarter in a loss to the Pacers at home.

Russell Westbrook gets tied up with Giannis Antetokounmpo
Getty Images

Lakers fans have seemingly turned on Westbrook amid his slump. He’s been greeted with boos at games and critics continue to troll the point guard on social media.

“It’s a sign of respect…,” Westbrook said of the fans’ frustration. “The most important part is that I continue to use my gift to play basketball and use that platform to help people around the world. That’s all I can do.

“Basketball is a short time of your life. I enjoy it, have fun, and want to compete at the highest level, but it’s not the end-all be all… Whatever comes, cheers, boos, it doesn’t really matter.”

Westbrook’s struggles also led to Vogel facing questions about his job security. The coach, though, has maintained that he continues to “play the guys I thought were gonna win the game.”

The Lakers acquired Westbrook last summer to form a Big 3 with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in hopes of winning a title.

The 26-29 Lakers occupy the ninth seed in the Western Conference a day before the NBA trade deadline.





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