For the first time all season, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook missed a game on Wednesday night as he sat out the road loss against the Portland Trail Blazers due to back soreness.
Although Westbrook’s play has been up and down this season, to that point, he had been the Lakers’ only player to suit up for every game.
After a couple of days off, the Lakers return to the court on Saturday night when they take on the Golden State Warriors. After Friday’s practice, Westbrook gave an update on how his back is feeling and if he’ll play in that game.
“I’m alright, I’m alright,” Westbrook said. I’ll see how I feel in the morning, making sure that I’m ready to go. But just day by day at the moment, just making sure that everything is moving the way I need to move and make sure that I’m moving the way I need to in order to be able to play tomorrow night.”
It was recently reported that Westbrook actually felt pain in his back previously and played through it against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. He confirmed that is the case and said he believes it started from sitting down too long during games.
“It comes and goes. It was honestly a lot [against] Milwaukee and just I’m not accustomed to sitting down in long stretches and like getting up and then like moving quickly, it kind of like stiffens up a little bit and then kind of moving into the next night, I woke up, same thing, just kind of real [stiff]. So for me, that’s triggered from some other places on my body, maybe my hips and different things so I want to make sure that I’m doing all the proper things and making sure that I can stay healthy and the best for my teammates when I’m on the floor.”
It’s hard not to laugh at these remarks from Westbrook because it seems he’s taking a subtle shot at Frank Vogel, who has benched Westbrook to close games a few times in recent weeks, including in that Bucks game.
Westbrook believes he deserves to close games
After that game, Westbrook said he believes he deserves to close games because of everything he’s accomplished, although it’s ultimately not his decision.
“Who me? I don’t have that answer for you, brother. I wish I did,” Westbrook said when asked if he’s been given a benchmark of how well he has to play to close. “I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmark, to be honest. I put a lot of work. I’ve got a lot of respect in this game. I don’t have to hit a benchmark. I shouldn’t have to. I’ve earned the right to be in closing lineups. Numbers will tell you.
“I don’t have to explain that, but like I said, once again, it ain’t my decision. That’s his decision that he and his coaching staff think that’s best for the game. Unfortunately, just kind of have to go with it and figure it out the best way that I can and be there for my teammates as much that I can and make sure that I come to work and do my job as a professional.”
Westbrook and Vogel clearly aren’t on the same page right now, which isn’t ideal for a team trying to turn their season around to get back into championship contention.
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