Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was benched at the tail end of a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. It was another tough moment amid a season of struggles, with a 5-of-17 shooting performance.
Westbrook played far better Friday in a 116-105 road win over the Orlando Magic, though, scoring 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, dished seven assists and had three steals.
After the game, Lakers forward LeBron James commented on his teammate's bounce-back performance:
Spectrum SportsNet @SpectrumSN
.<a href="https://twitter.com/KingJames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingJames</a> (29 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST) reflects on Russell Westbrook and Stanley Johnson's contributions in tonight's 116-105 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LakeShow?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LakeShow</a> win. <a href="https://t.co/rB5FEN79wT">pic.twitter.com/rB5FEN79wT</a>
"It's one game. I think he let last game go and was focused for this game, focused on a new game, new trip ... like I said, he's the head of the snake when it comes to being our point guard. He puts us in position, his attack is great. I thought he did a good job of getting to the paint, either for his shot or spreading out, and guys just played off his energy and effort on both ends tonight. And it was a great team effort."
On Wednesday, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was clear about why he benched Westbrook, telling reporters that he was "playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game."
That didn't happen against Indiana, but the Lakers looked far better Friday, albeit against a team with the worst record in the NBA at 8-39. They outscored Orlando 62-43 in the second half en route to an 11-point win that moved them to 23-23.
L.A. will stay in Florida to visit the Miami Heat on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET in hopes of getting back over .500.