Wednesday, the Lakers failed to sustain their hot start, eventually blowing a 15-point lead to the underwhelming Indiana Pacers in a 111-104 home loss. Notably, Westbrook watched helplessly from the sideline in the last 3:52 of the game after coach Frank Vogel yanked him from the floor.
In a report by ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook opened up about his reaction to the benching. Here’s how "Mr. Triple Double" explained his thoughts and emotions regarding the incident:
“Surprised, yes. I was disappointed I didn’t go back in, but I’m more disappointed that we lost the damn game.”
Reports surfaced just a few hours after the game that Vogel had the blessing from the front office to do what was necessary. The plan to do what was needed ended up causing Westbrook to miss the most critical part of the game.
The Indiana Pacers rode the hot hand of Caris LeVert, who scored 22 of his 30 points in the final quarter to pull the rug from the Lakers. Westbrook, on several occasions, was caught off guard by LeVert. It also didn’t help that the Lakers star had only 14 points on 17 shots before getting substituted.
The nine-time All-Star also defended himself in Wojnarowski's report:
“I have accepted everything that has been asked of me and tried to do it to the best of my ability. I’m not the ultimate decision-maker of if it’s working or if it’s not working … I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do at this point.”
Russell Westbrook and the LA Lakers are still confident of turning their season around
The LA Lakers (22-23) will be on the East coast in their next six games, starting with a matchup against the NBA's worst team, the Orlando Magic. Los Angeles, 1-4 in the past five games (following a season-best, four-game winning streak), is tied for seventh in the West.
Despite the gloom, Russell Westbrook still firmly believes they can achieve their expectations, particularly with a healthy lineup. Anthony Davis, who has been out with a knee injury for some time, is nearing his return. Many within the organization are pinning their hopes of his comeback as the catalyst to get back to their lofty goals.
Westbrook said he knows there are things he needs to work on and that things will work out for the better in the end.
“I want to get better as the season goes on, and I've got to take responsibility for the things I'm doing and how I'm making those around me better," Westbrook said. "We have a legitimate chance to be able to win it all and to do that, I'll have to be better – and I know that I will be."