- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 20, 2022

Things aren’t going great for Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel benched Westbrook for the final 3:52 of the team’s 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday — marking the latest setback for Westbrook, who has struggled mightily in his first season with Los Angeles.

The Lakers acquired Westbrook over the summer from the Washington Wizards, but Los Angeles is now a disappointing 22-23 on the season.

Against the Pacers, Westbrook was 5-of-17 from the field for 14 points. He was reportedly benched because of defensive miscues, with Vogel preferring to go with Malik Monk down the stretch. Westbrook is only averaging 18.5 points per game, the third-lowest mark of his career. The former MVP’s 4.2 turnovers per game rank second in the league. 

Westbrook was seen heading back to the locker room with eight seconds left and did not address reporters after the game. 

“Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game,” Vogel said when asked why he benched Westbrook

Amid rumors that Vogel is in danger of losing his job, ESPN reported that Vogel was given assurances earlier this month he could coach Westbrook in ways he saw fit — even if that meant benching the nine-time All-Star.

Last season for the Wizards, Westbrook started off slow before finding a rhythm — racking up triple-doubles as he helped lead Washington to the playoffs with a strong surge in the second half of the year. He averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 assists and 11.3 rebounds per game — the fourth time in five years he averaged a triple-double.

After the season, Westbrook requested a trade to the Lakers — wanting to go play for his hometown team. The experience, however, hasn’t gone as planned. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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