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#pounditFriday, May 20, 2022

Video shows reported play that got Russell Westbrook benched

Russell Westbrook getting beat defense

Frank Vogel’s decision to bench Russell Westbrook is the talk of the town in Lakerland at the moment. Now we can better visualize what exactly led to Vogel’s decision.

The L.A. Lakers guard Westbrook was pulled from Wednesday’s game with the Indiana Pacers late in the fourth quarter. Vogel, the Lakers coach, opted to sit him for the final 3:52 of the contest, which the Lakers lost 111-104.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported Thursday that there was one specific play that led to Westbrook’s benching: a blow-by that he allowed to Pacers guard Caris LeVert for an easy basket midway through the fourth quarter.

From McMenamin’s article:

The final straw, pushing the staff to honor their instinct to bench him, was when Caris LeVert blew by Westbrook on defense for a layup with 7 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.

The coaching staff had repeatedly emphasized the scouting report to take away LeVert’s right hand, and Westbrook, guarding LeVert at the top of the key one-on-one, didn’t angle himself properly to thwart the drive and allowed LeVert easy access to the paint en route to the hoop.

Lakers Daily shared video on Twitter of the reported play. In the video, you can see Westbrook darting one way to anticipate a LeVert drive off a dribble handoff, only for LeVert to cut back the other way to his strong hand.

Westbrook actually played for another three minutes after the sequence in question. But that appears to have been what spurred Vogel’s decision to bench him as the game tightened.

Though he has struggled mightily for much of the season, the former league MVP Westbrook did not handle the benching particularly well. What is also interesting about the whole situation is that Vogel reportedly had plenty of support to make the move.

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