Frank Vogel Benches Russell Westbrook In Loss To Pacers

The Los Angeles Lakers seemed to have gotten their groove back after a big 101-95 win at home over the Utah Jazz on Monday.  Unfortunately, performances like that haven't been the norm for the 2020 NBA Champions, as we were reminded with their follow-up performance last night vs. the Indiana Pacers.  The Lakers led by six at halftime and by four heading into the 4th quarter, but they gave up the lead early in the period and they never got it back, eventually losing 111-104.  

The big story coming out of the game was Frank Vogel's decision to bench starting point guard Russell Westbrook for the game's final minutes - something the former Pacers head coach has seemed reluctant to do up to this point.  With Vogel's job supposedly in jeopardy, perhaps the veteran coach is willing to try just about anything to create more wins, but it was reported that Vogel didn't act alone in his decision-making.  As one source stated, management had a conversation with the Lakers head coach regarding Westbrook's playing time, going as far as to say "You got to do what you got to do" even if it potentially upsets a star player.  He may have done just that, as The Athletic reports that Russ and teammate Trevor Ariza left the court with about 13 seconds left to head back to the locker room a little early after the loss.

When asked what was behind the decision to bench Westbrook after the game, Vogel was to the point with his answer:

Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game.

The Lakers' next game is tomorrow night against the Orlando Magic, and a lot of spectators will be keeping a close eye on Frank Vogel and Russell Westbrook in a matchup they should easily win, even if nothing has come easy this season for this dysfunctional team.

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