Westbrook focused on winning after being benched

Los Angeles Lakers star, Russell Westbrook, told ESPN that he was disappointed to sit on the bench in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, but is undeterred on how to “find out and do what’s best for our team to win long term.”

Asked if he was surprised coach Frank Vogel substituted for him in the final four minutes of LA’s fourth loss in five games, Westbrook told ESPN: “Surprised, yes. I was disappointed we didn’t get back in, but I’m more disappointed that we lost the damn game.

“I want to be able to be on the floor to help my teammates and to be able to help our team win games like that, but that was a decision that was made.”

ESPN reported Thursday that the coaching staff had management clearance to bench Westbrook in key minutes of the game, and Vogel told reporters he played with “the guys I thought were going to win the game.”

In an interview with ESPN after the Lakers arrived in Orlando, Florida, to begin a six-game Eastern Conference road trip, Westbrook made clear his commitment to finding his place on his fourth team in four seasons and asked for patience in give him and the Lakers a chance to get the All-NBA power forward back healthy, Anthony Davis, and find a way to turn the team into a championship contender. The Lakers, 21-22 and eighth in the Western Conference, are considered one of the most disappointing teams in the league.

“Ultimately, you have to be OK when things don’t go right, and I’m OK,” Westbrook told ESPN. “I did everything that was asked of me here, and I will continue to do it and stick with this as long as we can towards our ultimate goal, which is to win a championship.”

“Obviously we haven’t been completely healthy, but I’m committed to making this work. The communication is there with everyone in the organization to make this work, to make this team what we all want it to be in the future.”

“I accepted everything that was asked of me and tried to do the best I could. I’m not the one who makes the final decisions on whether it’s working or not. I’m okay with sacrificing some of the things that I’ve been able to do in this game to win, because that’s the most important part of this game. I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do up to this point.”

Westbrook was unhappy with the characterizations that he stormed out of the Crypto.com Arena locker room without meeting with reporters at a post-game news conference. Both Westbrook and team officials said Thursday that the organization asked him not to show up for the interview session.

Westbrook, 33, insists he is trying to fulfill Vogel’s wishes amid a slew of injuries and inconsistent lineups.

“I think the communication of what [Vogel] he wants and how he wants it changes because players have been in and out of the lineup,” Westbrook told ESPN. “Everybody’s trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. I try to keep my head down and do the best I can for our team, and whatever is asked of me, I try to do my best. That’s all I’ve been trying to do since I got here.”

Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and 2017 NBA MVP, came to the Lakers in a July trade with the Washington Wizards. The Lakers are his fourth stop in four years, including Houston and Oklahoma City. Westbrook described the process of learning to play with the then Rocket james harden Y Bradley Beal of the Wizards as a preparation for what awaited him with Lebron James and Davis on these Lakers.

“I think it’s important to know that part of the process of being on a new team is that there will be a lot of ups and downs and struggles throughout the season,” Westbrook told ESPN. “It’s been a challenge for the last three years, just trying to figure things out. I lean a lot on my faith to be able to stay focused on my craft and work hard and find ways to make situations work. The challenge is how to be the version of myself on this team, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

“I want to get better as the season goes on, and I have to take responsibility for the things that I’m doing and how I’m making those around me better. We have a legitimate chance to be able to win it all and in order to do that, I’m going to have to do better. And I know I will.”

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Westbrook focused on winning after being benched