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Russell Westbrook almost left the floor after getting benched


There is a reason it's not easy to play in such a big market like Los Angeles. The lights are always on, expectations are high, and everything gets out. Although his style suits LA's flashiness, Russell Westbrook looks like a fish out of water in the Purple & Gold. The Lakers have been the biggest disappointment of the season, and the primary scapegoats have been Westbrook and head coach Frank Vogel. 

But the situation reached its low-end peak the other night with Westbrook almost leaving the floor after getting benched during clutch time against the Pacers -- the Lakers lost 111-104. Also, Charles Barkley chipped in on the situation last night and blasted the Lakers management.

Westbrook had to be restrained from leaving the floor

This season has been characterized by disappointing losses and blown leads for the Lakers, as the home defeat versus the Pacers the other night perfectly symbolizes this group. Leading by 15 in front of their crowd and playing decent, only to fall apart and lose to the mediocre Pacers, was just another hit to the depleted Lakers team.

Westbrook has continued to struggle, scoring 14 points with 2 rebounds and 3 assists but shooting only 5-17 from the field. Poor shooting performances and high turnover numbers have been a regular occurrence for the star point guard, who has never faced this volume of criticism in his 14-year career. 

But the biggest take from that game was Westbrook actually getting benched for the last four minutes. This is something Lakers fans have pleaded for due to Russ making numerous mistakes in close games this season, but this was the first time coach Vogel pulled the trigger. And man, Westbrook was not happy.

"Russell Westbrook nearly left the floor after he was subbed out for Monk, but teammate DeAndre Jordan shepherded him back. Westbrook watched the next few minutes unfold, apparently jawing from the bench with his jersey untucked, although exactly what was said (and at whom) is still unclear."

Kyle Goon, The OCR

It is apparent Westbrook has been pouting for some time due to dissatisfaction with his role. From chuckling at a reporter calling him a point guard to missing numerous press conferences, Westbrook's morale is at an all-time low. For the first time in his career, he is not the primary ball-handler and star, forced to play a lot off the ball, where he is massively inefficient.

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In his time with the Thunder, Rockets, and the Wizards, Westbrook had his hands free to do whatever he wanted, make mistakes, and still be the hero. But now, when the expectations are high, lights are bright, and LeBron is your teammate -- the game has changed. It's a new world for Russell, but can you really blame him? He is not doing anything he hasn't done for his whole career. This is who the Lakers traded for. You can't put that on Russ or Vogel. "Sir Charles" seems to agree.

Charles Barkley absolutely blast Lakers management

Although the whole team, aside from a few individuals, has been underperforming, the only two names that are constantly bashed by Lakers fans are Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel. You can understand Westbrook getting flamed -- although it's a bit too much -- but Vogel has been really treated poorly for no reason. 

What more can Vogel do? Both Anthony Davis and LeBron James have missed significant time, along with a cast of support players. He is given a roster that doesn't really mesh well together and is expected to magically make it work. The fact he has been on the hot seat is the result of the classic mentality that coaches are the head of problems and expendable. So when things aren't going well, and you need to make a change, coaches usually get the short end of the stick.

Well, all the talk about Vogel getting fired and Russ getting balmed for the Lakers struggles has infuriated Charles Barkley, who went on a huge rant last night on TNT:

"The Lakers are such wussies. The way they are trying to throw Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel under the bus is really pissing me off. I'm not gonna sit around like all these clowns on other networks who got their head up the Lakers booties. Now, they're blaming Frank Vogel and Russell Westbrook. The people up top who put that trash together are running and hiding like cowards, saying 'Oh it's Frank, it's Russ.' You put all them old geezers out there. Listen, the best guy other than LeBron in the last month has been who? Stanley Johnson. For y'all to be bringing a guy who was on the street and he becomes your second best player, whoever running that trash out there getting away with. It's ridiculous man."

Charles Barkley, ">NBA On TNT

Charles, in his style, didn't hold back, but he has a great point. Those who constructed a roster full of veterans and guys who don't fit together should get the most of the blame. Rob Pelinka is nowhere to be seen, but he should be the one getting flamed rather than Vogel or Westbrook. 

The sad reality is that Vogel is likely to be fired in the near future, but knowing his reputation in the league, he will have no problem finding a new job. On the other hand, the Lakers have dug themselves a hole that will not be easy to climb out of.

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