Westbrook addresses late benching: 'I've done everything' Lakers asked me
Westbrook admitted he was "disappointed" about having to watch the final 3:52 from the sidelines but remains dedicated to bringing another title to L.A.
"Ultimately, you have to be OK when s--- doesn't go well, and I'm OK," Westbrook told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. "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. We obviously haven't been fully healthy, but I'm committed to making this thing work.
"The communication is there with everybody in the organization to make this thing work, to make this team we all want it to be in the future. I have accepted everything that has been asked of me and tried to do it to the best of my ability."
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, reportedly on the hot seat himself, apparently had clearance from the front office to bench Westbrook, who's earning over $44 million this season and cost the team Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and Kyle Kuzma in an offseason trade with the Washington Wizards. Vogel defended the decision postgame, telling reporters he was "playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game."
Before being pulled Wednesday, the 33-year-old shot 5-of-17 and scored 14 points in just under 27 minutes.
The Lakers have effectively been two different teams with and without the nine-time All-Star on the floor in the final frame; in 342 fourth-quarter minutes, Los Angeles is registering a minus-6.3 net rating when Westbrook plays, the second-worst mark on the roster among players with at least 100 minutes played in the fourth so far.
Yet, with the former MVP on the bench for 198 total minutes this season, the Lakers' fourth-quarter net rating jumps to 11.6. That 17.9-point swing is the largest among all Lakers players with a minimum of 100 fourth-quarter minutes.
Westbrook is averaging 18.5 points, 8 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 1.1 steals through 45 games in his 14th season. His scoring numbers are the lowest since his sophomore 2009-10 campaign when he tallied 16.1 points per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.