Los Angeles Lakers fans were disappointed with Russel Westbrook who was benched in the overtime session against New York Knicks at Crypto.com Arena on February 5, 2022, in Los Angeles. Despite the unsupportive comments from fans, Westbrook’s teammates got his back.
Westbrook, NBA’s triple-double king who scored his record-breaking 182nd triple-double in an intense 125-124 loss against the Atlanta Hawk, was booed by home fans when he played on Saturday. He was then benched by Coach Frank Vogel during the overtime session which led to the victory of the Lakers on that game.
“Russ was having a tough night, on both sides of the ball. And Bron was really going. So I knew the ball was going to be in Bron’s hands.” said Vogel when he decided to sit Westbrook and substituted him with Talen Horton-Tucker who was scoreless at that time. However, Vogel thinks that THT was just better to do a defend than Westbrook’s play.
LeBron James logs his 103rd career triple-double as the @Lakers erase a 21 point deficit before notching the win in OT! #LakeShow
Malik Monk: 29 PTS, 4 3PM
LeBron James: 29 PTS, 13 REB, 10 AST
Anthony Davis: 28 PTS, 17 REB, 3 STL, 4 BLK pic.twitter.com/VIkSrpLpL5
— NBA (@NBA) February 6, 2022
Support for Westbrook
The problem with Westbrook that night as he was not only unproductive for the whole fourth quarter, five points, 1-of-10 shooting, 3-of-7 from the line, four turnovers, a team-worst -15, but he was also hesitant. Fortunately, Anthony Davis and LeBron James were there to support Westbrook, as well as DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley who sat next to Russ when he was timed out.
“You have to go out there and play freely. There were some shots tonight that he usually takes in rhythm that he kind of passed up or hesitated. (Anthony Davis) and (LeBron James) were telling him, ‘We don’t care if you miss everyone. Just play,’” said Davis to the press.
Though it was an ugly scene of five points on 1-of-10 (10.0%) for Westbrook, Jordan and Bradley came to check up on him.
King James was also there to support Westbrook when he told Westbrook to “keep going”.
“I told (Westbrook) to text me later. I told him to keep going, stop second-guessing himself… He’s an instinctive player, with what he’s done in this league, he should never second guess himself… I have the utmost confidence in his ability,” James said in Harrison Faigen’s Twitter post.
Lakers fans yelling at Westbrook to not shoot.
AD on RUSS: “Me & LeBron were telling him ‘we don’t care if you miss every one. Just play. Shoot your rhythm shots, don’t hesitate…He’s got to stay out of his own head” pic.twitter.com/UNEIdv2rpu
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 6, 2022
Is trade next for Westbrook?
With the trade deadline around the corner, the question lies whether the team wants to continue giving Westbrook a second chance or has the team had enough.
Westbrook issues that left Vogel with no choice but to sit him on the bench were caused by Westbrook missing two free throws in the final minute, leaving seven points on the lead that evening.
Rumors persisted that Westbrook might be traded back to Houston Rockets for veteran John Wall.
“It’s obvious they’re trying to move Westbrook, which is damn-near impossible. They know that roster’s just not working,” said Steve Bulpett, the dean of NBA beat writers.
NBA insider, Marc Stein finally concludes that Los Angeles managerial is unwilling to meet Rocket’s asking price in the trade. On the other hand, Houston general manager is willing to make this swap in the idea of buying Westbrook out.
“A trade with the Houston Rockets to ship out Russell Westbrook is on the proverbial table for the Los Angeles Lakers,” Stein noted. “The Lakers, though, appear determined to stick with Westbrook through at least the rest of the season — which means holding onto their 2027 first-round draft pick for other potential trade opportunities.”