Lakers' Frank Vogel Takes Blame for Russell Westbrook's Struggles vs. Warriors

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 22, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Golden State Warriors on October 19, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said he'll take the blame for Russell Westbrook's lackluster debut after having a chance to review Tuesday's season-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors.

"[Westbrook played] pretty good," Vogel told reporters Thursday. "We didn't get him involved enough, and that's on me. We continue to look at situations to make him useful and not pull away from what [Anthony Davis] and [LeBron James] are doing. Those guys obviously got going, but I didn't do a good enough job getting Russ going, and that's an easy fix."

Westbrook made just four of his 13 shots from the field as part of a stat line that included eight points, five rebounds, four assists and four turnovers in 35 minutes against the Warriors.

The Lakers underwent a massive roster overhaul during the offseason to completely revamp the roster around James and Davis, so it won't come as a major surprise if L.A. gets off to a sluggish start.

It's going to take time for all of the team's new players to become accustomed to their new roles, and Westbrook has perhaps the most difficult learning curve as he adapts to not having the ball in his hands nearly as much while playing alongside the likes of James and Rajon Rondo.

"We're going to have a bigger need for patience than most teams because we have 11 new players. It's that simple," Vogel said. "We're very different and new to each other. So there's gonna be more of a need for patience with our team than any."

Westbrook is also playing for his fourth different team in as many seasons, a stretch that included the end of his 11-year stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder followed by stops with the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards before landing with the Lakers.

While learning a new system every season is difficult, his past success should give L.A. hope he'll figure things out quickly.

In Houston, his time on the ball dropped while playing alongside James Harden, but he shot a career-best 47.2 percent from the field. In Washington, his shot attempts dipped alongside Bradley Beal, but he averaged a triple-double for the fourth time in his career.

Westbrook, who's one of the sport's ultimate competitors, tends to find his niche and take off eventually, and that'll probably be the case once again with the Lakers.

"So we're going to make sure that we do whatever we can to try and help him speed that process up to get him going," Davis said. "But he'll be fine. He's just got to be himself, like I said before, and everything will work out for him."

The new-look Lakers are back in action Friday night when they host the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.


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