On Tuesday night, the Lakers matchup against the defending champions didn’t end-up as they might have planned.
The Bucks, leading by as many as 30 points at one point, dominated and comfortably clinched the game 131-116 behind a 44-point night from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Milwaukee separated themselves from the hosts early, courtesy of a 26-8 run in the first quarter, and just built on that the rest of the way.
For much of the game, the Lakers didn’t even look competitive against the Bucks.
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However, in the fourth quarter, they did bring the lead – which ranged in the 20s for much of the game – down to 10 but couldn’t ice that run. This late run came with Russell Westbrook on the bench.
In fact, unlike previous recent instances when the superstar guard was benched through stretches of the fourth quarter, in this game he wasn’t called upon at all, once he was subbed-out at the 2:34 mark of the third quarter.
“I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmark, to be honest,” Westbrook said postgame. “I put a lot of work in, I got a lot of respect in this game.”
Russell Westbrook on what benchmarks he has to hit to be in the Lakers’ closing lineup for Frank Vogel (question via @kylegoon): pic.twitter.com/21sqg7lvnR
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) February 9, 2022
At the final buzzer, the former league MVP shot 3-of-11 from the field for his 10 points. Over the last four games, including this one, Westbrook has shot 14-of-51 from the field and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.
Once the Lakers waived the white flag after their valiant fight in the fourth, Westbrook was seen consoling LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
He was reportedly sharing with them that he wished he could help them but couldn’t as he wasn’t in the game in the final period.
Russ trying to cheer up LeBron and AD after a tough loss to the Bucks ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xhD8MXqfKM
— ESPN (@espn) February 9, 2022
The Westbrook situation with the Lakers has been the talk of the town of late, especially given his struggles and inefficient play.
When asked about that moment in the final seconds of the game, LeBron James reflected on the chemistry between the team’s Big 3.
“I want to help AD. I want to help Russ. AD want to help me help Russ and Russ wants to help us,” James said postgame. “Lately, Russ hasn’t felt like he’s had an opportunity or with an opportunity given, he’s hasn’t helped us as much as he’d like. We haven’t done a great job of helping him.”
With this loss, the 10th defeat in their last 15 games, the Lakers stumble to 26-29 for the season.
They are currently the ninth seed, a half game behind the eighth-seeded LA Clippers and 3.5 games ahead of the tenth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans.
“We’ve gotta try and turn this around before it gets really bad,” Anthony Davis said postgame.