The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks in overtime on Saturday 122-105.
While LA beating a team that is now 24-29 on the year isn’t particularly noteworthy, what did stand out from this outing was that this group’s Russell Westbrook problem isn’t getting any better.
LeBron James finished with a triple-double of 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Anthony Davis chipped in 28 points and 17 rebounds. Westbrook? He finished with 5 points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. Aside from his +/- being -15, the best encapsulation of Westbrook’s night was this sequence:
Just one of the most surreal moments of my time covering the Lakers. I can’t ever remember the fans begging a player not to shoot like this pic.twitter.com/68NwIkDVMm
— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) February 6, 2022
Because of how ice cold Westbrook was in this one, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel benched him in overtime. That proved to be the right call, with Talen Horton-Tucker providing all of the same offensive ineptness that Westbrook brings to the table plus significantly upgraded defensive abilities.
In the end, LA emerged victorious.
After the game, Westbrook confronted the media regarding everything that had transpired:
“When I play bad, you guys ask me a s*** ton of questions,” he said. “And then when I shoot the ball well, I don’t hear too many of those questions… We won the game and that’s the most important part.”
That core message of the dub being the most important thing is one that Westbrook would stick to.
“The best part about this game is you win,” he continued. “Guys competed, we won the game. That’s all that matters.”
Westbrook also handled Vogel’s decision to bench him pretty well.
“He makes the decision that he feels is best for the team,” he said. “I don’t want to make it about me. We got a good win. On to the next one.”
That said, Westbrook still maintained a somewhat defiant tone.
“I missed some shots that I normally make,” he said. “But like I said, I don’t want to make it about me. … Everybody is gonna have off nights.”
It will be interesting to see where the Lakers go from here. They really only have one option to unload Westbrook ahead of next week’s NBA Trade Deadline, but they don’t appear too enthusiastic about it.
Now that’s how you celebrate a birthday. https://t.co/aDSEJCZaPY
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 5, 2022
What will the front office be able to accomplish in the coming days? Time will tell.