Los Angeles Lakers manager Darvin Ham says he can’t afford to waste time managing players’ feelings after benching Russell Westbrook late as they plummeted to 0-3 early on Sunday.
The Lakers gave up a seven-point lead with 1:56 remaining, losing 106-104 to the Portland Trail Blazers at Crypto.com Arena after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James scored a two-point attempt on the buzzer as they missed four of their last five shots in the last two minutes.
Leading 102-101, Westbrook missed a 15-foot pull-up jumper with 27.3 seconds remaining in the game and 18 seconds remaining in the clock. He was then sent to the bench after Damian Lillard drained three points to put the Blazers ahead.
“We don’t have time for feelings or people in their feelings. For example, we’re trying to turn this thing around,” Ham told reporters. “In order for a person to be in their feelings about when, where and how they should be in the game, I don’t have time for that.”
Westbrook finished with 10 points from four of 15 shots, adding six rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes, with no turnovers, having given away four in the initial defeat to Golden State.
Ham was critical of Westbrook’s shooting position rather than his decision to take on his jumper with 27.3 seconds to go trying to execute a two-on-one, to secure two offensive possessions in the final moments.
“I just wish we had directly attacked the circle,” Ham said. “This is the only blow that the teams want you to take and they want to give up: two long, two contested.
“With his ability to explode and get to the basket still at a high level, I wish he would. Especially with Nurkic standing there with five fouls … shot selection is something we have to work on.”
James would not have been drawn to Westbrook, proactively calling reporters for their line of questions on the nine-time All-Star, which started the season averaging 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists. and 3.0 steals per game.
“I feel like this is an interview about trying to prepare myself to say something,” James said. “I can tell you guys are in the whole Russell Westbrook category right now. I don’t like losing. I hate losing in anything.
“I don’t care what happens over the course of my season or over the course of my career, I hate losing. And especially the way we played this game. But give Portland credit.
“You guys can write about Russ and all the things you want to try talking about Russ, but I’m not here to do that. I won’t. I’ve said it over and over. It’s not who I am.”
James finished with 31 points out of 12 from 22 shots on the pitch, with eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, while Anthony Davis scored 22 points with 10 rebounds, two steals and six blocks.
The troubles of the Lakers from over the arc have plagued them again, shooting six of 33 three-pointers.