The 2021-22 season has been a rollercoaster for the Los Angeles Lakers and it seemed to reach another low point after blowing a 15-point lead to an undermanned Indiana Pacers team on Wednesday night.
The Lakers had control of the game in the first half, but the wheels fell off in the second half when they suddenly had no answer for the Pacers backcourt. In what came as a major surprise, head coach Frank Vogel decided to close the contest without Russell Westbrook, which immediately raised eyebrows around the league.
Westbrook later admitted he was surprised by the fourth quarter benching although said he was more disappointed in the loss.
After returning to action on Friday night and having a bounce-back game in the win over the Orlando Magic, Westbrook reiterated that and his willingness to do what is asked of him.
“I think you know my reaction, you read it. I said I was upset about it. I’m more upset that we didn’t win a game, that’s the most important part,” Westbrook said. “After that, like I said, I’ve been here, I’ve been doing my job since Day 1 and doing everything that’s been asked of me since I got here. 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.”
It was a much-needed win for the Lakers, who kicked off their six-game road trip on the right foot and Westbrook also added that he has yet to lose faith in what they are doing as a group.
“I never once didn’t have confidence in our group. All I’ve been preaching is the same thing since Day 1 and I’ll continue to preach is that it’s a process. It’s a process. I know every week we may win a game, we may lose a game and that happens. We’re still trying to figure it out, we’re still trying to find the best way to play with our group and getting guys healthy. Hopefully we get AD back soon and find ways to now implement him coming back and making sure that we can find a rhythm as a group.”
The star guard has been under heavy scrutiny during their recent down stretch but he will need to pick up his play if he hopes to change the narrative. After a strong performance against the Magic, hopefully Westbrook is able to keep that momentum going.
Westbrook says communication with Frank Vogel is fine
Vogel’s decision was a controversial one, but he is well-known for being an open communicator when it comes to personnel choices. While it would be easy to imagine some tension between Vogel and Westbrook, the latter said the two’s communication is intact.
“I think the communication is fine,” Westbrook said. “Like I said, Frank made a decision that he felt was best. My job as a player and as a professional is to do my job. Continue to find ways to be able to help impact winning. That’s all I was thinking about and turned the page to do, and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”
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