Russell Westbrook has ended up on the bench in crunch time of a second game this season, missing the entire overtime period in the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the New York Knicks.
Westbrook finished the night with five points, four rebounds, and six assists — with L.A. getting outscored by team-high 15 points in the 29 minutes he spent on the floor.
After the guard’s mistakes allowed the Knicks to tie the game before the end of regulation, Talen Horton-Tucker replaced him in the lineup when the two sides squared off in overtime.
But the 2017 NBA MVP tried to downplay his absence in the unit that eventually sealed the win for the Purple and Gold.
“The best part about this game is when you win,” Westbrook said. “Guys competed and we got the win, that’s all that matters.”
Head coach Frank Vogel previously benched the 33-year-old in crunch time of last month’s 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers. The possibility of taking Westbrook off the court when necessary had reportedly been internally discussed within the Lakers organization before that matchup.
And while the guard admitted he wasn’t aware he would again sit on the bench while his teammates were fighting for a win on Sunday, Westbrook reiterated L.A.’s success is all that matters to him.
“Honestly, I was just playing. Trying to figure out just how to win the game. It’s not about me, it’s not about what I’m doing. It’s about the team. That’s what is most important and that’s all that matters.”
Westbrook shot a poor 1-for-10 from the field against the Knicks, missing all of his 3-point attempts in regulation. The guard explained his off-night by saying it can happen to any NBA star.
“It happens, you know? I missed some shots that I normally make, but like I said, I don’t want to keep making it about me,” Westbrook said. “When I play bad, you guys ask me a shit ton of questions and when I shoot the ball well, I don’t really hear too many of those questions. So I don’t want to keep making it about me and what I’m doing. We won the game tonight and that’s the most important part.
“As far as basketball, there’s going to be off nights. Everybody has off nights. I have some, other people may have some. That’s part of the game, that’s basketball. But I don’t care about anything as long as we won. Winning is the most important part of this game and that’s the most important thing to me regardless if I play well or I shoot bad. If I played well and we lose, it doesn’t really matter. We lost the game, but if we win, that’s the most important part to me.”
Vogel thinks Westbrook and Anthony Davis’ All-Star omission results from Lakers’ poor record
LeBron James is set to represent the Lakers by himself during the 2022 All-Star Game in Cleveland, as none of his teammates made either the starting five or the reserves of the two teams that will lock horns on Feb. 20.
Vogel thinks Westbrook and Anthony Davis’ chances of making the All-Star rosters were hurt by L.A.’s losing record in 2021-22.
“Yeah, that’s a little surprising,” the head coach said.
“Obviously, we feel like those guys should be on there. But obviously, I think where you are at in the standings matters with these types of things.”
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