Russell Westbrook sat on the bench for nearly a full quarter of the LA Lakers’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers. LA mounted a big third quarter and were on track in the first half of the last period before Darvin Ham re-inserted the former MVP back into the lineup.
Ham replaced Troy Brown Jr. with Westbrook with less than five minutes left in the game and the Lakers up by eight at 98-90. Russ then missed two shots, the second of which was taken with 30.1 seconds left in the game and LA leading by a point.
On his podcast, Nick Wright minced no words in his comments about Russell Westbrook’s bone-headed play:
(Starts at the 9:34 mark)
“That decision last night was such a ‘F**k you’ to his teammates, his coach and to everyone. It was so bad.”
The LA Lakers were ahead by the slimmest of margins after Anfernee Simons kissed the ball off the glass to make it 102-101. AD inbounded the ball to Westbrook while the rest of the team walked towards their end of the court.
Everyone in the building except Russ must have thought that the play to make was to milk the shot clock before trying to score. Instead, Westbrook took a few steps inside the arc and suddenly went for the shot, explaining later that he wanted to go for a 2-in-1 situation.
He missed and gave the Blazers the ball with 27.3 seconds left in the game. The decision was atrocious not just because he missed it, but because he took the shot in a situation that needed to be handled very differently. Portland then went on to win the game 106-104.
Social media blasted Russ during and after the game for wanting to prove that he can still score when needed. The “Westbrick” memes only got nastier than when the game first started following the ill-advised shot and miss.
Calls to send Russell Westbrook home until a trade happens have only gotten louder
Skip Bayless, one of Russell Westbrook’s biggest and most relenting critics, has been urging the LA Lakers to just remove him from the lineup. Others are now starting to join the chorus after the nine-time All-Star’s disastrous start to the season.
Kendrick Perkins, a former teammate of Westbrook’s, echoed the same sentiment:
(Starts at the 5:20 mark)
“Russ’ behavior is becoming cancerous to the team. … What do you do now? You know what you do? You send him home, you send him home until you find a team that’s gonna trade for him.
“His attitude is gonna wear on everybody, the coaching staff, his teammates and the training staff. There’s no reason to try to make the relationship work. Russell Westbrook is not changing.”
Nick Wright also underlined the same sentiment during an episode of “First Things First” after Westbrook’s atrocious start to the season:
“You gotta send him home or trade him ’cause they’re afraid to bench him.”
Darvin Ham had already kept Westbrook on the sidelines for close to 11 minutes in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers. If his play doesn’t improve, the Lakers coach may do it more often and for longer.