The Lakers losing to the Pacers earlier this week might have been rock bottom. Coming off of the high of beating the Utah Jazz on Monday, a loss to Indiana felt like the final nail in the coffin of Frank Vogel's tenure.
As it turns out, it was not quite the final nail. Vogel will travel with the team on their long road trip, and his fate likely lies with the results of that trip. But his decision to pull Russell Westbrook late in the loss to the Pacers still looms large.
Westbrook left Crypto.com Arena after the loss without speaking to reporters. But today, he spoke with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski about the decision. To his credit, Westbrook was mostly focused on the result of the game for the Lakers.
"Surprised, yes. I was disappointed I didn't go back in, but I'm more disappointed that we lost the damn game," he said. "I want to be able to be on the floor to help my teammates and be able to help our team win in games like that—but that was a decision that was made."
It was reported after the loss that Vogel had clearance from upper management to coach Westbrook however he saw fit. Apparently, that includes benching him with 4 minutes left in the game.
"I've done everything that's been asked of me here, and I'll continue to do so and ride this out as long as we can toward our ultimate goal -- and that's to win a championship."
From the outsie looking in, it did seem like an odd decision for the Lakers to sit Russ when they needed points. But the numbers are there to support the benching, and Russ has certianly struggled with finding the net during the month of January.
Things will get better, but Lakers fans can only hope there is enough time to make a strong playoff push.