Russell Westbrook found himself at the center of rumors and speculations again after Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel decided to bench the guard late in the recent loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Westbrook said he was “disappointed” he couldn’t help L.A. fight to snatch the victory from the Pacers’ hands. But the 2017 NBA MVP bounced back on Friday, missing out on his 10th triple-double of the season by three assists against the Orlando Magic.
The 33-year-old ended the night with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven dimes, helping the Purple and Gold chalk up a 116-105 win. Westbrook’s efficiency and energy against the Magic earned praise from Vogel.
“Russ played a really good basketball game,” the head coach said. “He came in very focused and played efficient offensively and brought a pure energy to the game. He just wanted to impose his will, play his part, and played a hell of a game.”
Vogel said Westbrook is a “high-character” player, highlighting the guard’s role in helping L.A. get back in the win column. The head coach added Westbrook has proven his adaptability by the many adjustments he has had to make this season.
“He’s had a great willingness and more willingness to adapt and adjust than most of the guys on our team because he’s had to make the biggest adjustment,” Vogel said before the clash with the Magic.
“I would definitely agree with that. He’s all in on doing whatever’s necessary to get the Lakers in position to win a championship.”
Vogel also addressed the rumors that the front office backed his decision to bench Westbrook in the last minutes of the loss to the Pacers.
“I’ve got full autonomy to make any coaching decisions necessary to win games,” Vogel said. “That is something that has always been persistent there. I do communicate with the front office on everything that I’m considering and there’s a strong alignment there. It ultimately comes down to, we talk about a lot of different things. I have autonomy to make final decisions.”
Westbrook commits to doing what is asked of him to help Lakers win
Although Westbrook has endured an eventful week, he still vows to do what is asked of him to help the Lakers win this season.
“I’ve been doing my job since Day 1 and doing everything that’s been asked of me since I got here,” he said. “And I’ll continue to do that for the betterment of the team and doing what’s best for us and finding ways to implement how I can make an impact on this team.”
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