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Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook benched late in loss; coach Frank Vogel had green light, sources say

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LOS ANGELES — Lengthy earlier than Russell Westbrook was benched down the stretch of Wednesday’s 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel was given assurances that the group would assist him in taking a tough line whereas teaching the star, sources instructed ESPN.

Over the previous week and a half, Lakers administration has instructed the teaching employees to educate Westbrook as they see match, even when meaning pulling him from a recreation, as Vogel did for the ultimate 3 minutes, 52 seconds of the fourth quarter in opposition to Indiana, sources instructed ESPN.

One supply near the state of affairs described the message from administration to the employees as, “You bought to do what you bought to do.”

Westbrook was 5-for-17 from the sector when Vogel put in Malik Monk for him with L.A. trailing 101-94.

Other than his offensive struggles, Westbrook did not execute on the defensive finish. The ultimate straw, pushing the employees to honor their intuition to bench him, was when Caris LeVert blew by Westbrook on protection for a layup with 7 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.

The teaching employees had repeatedly emphasised the scouting report to remove LeVert’s proper hand, and Westbrook, guarding LeVert on the prime of the important thing one-on-one, did not angle himself correctly to thwart the drive and allowed LeVert quick access to the paint en path to the ring.

Requested what was behind his determination to bench Westbrook, the usually measured Vogel responded with a matter-of-fact edge.

“Enjoying the blokes that I believed had been going to win the sport,” he mentioned.

Vogel’s job has been in jeopardy since L.A. was blown out by 37 factors on the Denver Nuggets over the weekend, in response to numerous stories.

The teaching employees had been debating whether or not to drag Westbrook from late-game conditions for weeks, sources mentioned, however at all times refrained due to worries concerning the lasting influence on Westbrook’s psyche.

Certainly, even LeBron James danced across the topic of Westbrook’s benching, maybe not wanting to attract additional consideration to the indignity for the previous league MVP.

“Would you suppose that might trouble Russ not being in a late recreation?” he mentioned, answering a reporter’s query with a query, reasonably than giving a straight reply.

James was left to talk on Westbrook as a result of the 14-year veteran — who exited the court docket with 8.4 seconds remaining on the clock — departed from the world with out chatting with reporters.

Westbrook additionally had already vacated the locker room by the point his teammates had been completed showering, sources mentioned, forgoing any postgame dialogue with the staff.

“I do not suppose it is nothing private,” mentioned Lakers ahead Carmelo Anthony, who just lately mentioned that he can relate to the function adjustment Westbrook goes by this season, having executed it himself just a few years again. “It is simply one thing that he isn’t used to. You’ll suppose any individual like that might be on the court docket. However with the circulation of the sport, there’s been occasions I have not been within the recreation or different guys have not been within the recreation. So I do not suppose it is something private.”

Not private, however definitely essential. The Lakers, about to embark on a six-game highway journey and sitting at No. 8 within the Western Convention at 22-23, can sick afford to lose any extra time prioritizing Westbrook’s consolation over the staff’s likelihood at success.

“It is simply one thing that Russ has acquired to … ,” Anthony mentioned earlier than correcting himself mid-sentence, “We gotta assist him determine it out.”

“It is irritating. I can inform you that,” he continued. “It is irritating as a participant who’s making an attempt to make it proper, making an attempt to do issues proper. That is new for him. It is a new state of affairs. It is a new setting. We acquired to assist him by it. I imply, that is the one factor we will do, is ensure his psychological is true. That is the one factor I care about. I do not care about any basketball stuff in relation to Russ.

“So long as his psychological is true, then I am good.”

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