Should Mike D'Antoni Be Willing To Bench Russell Westbrook?
Houston Rockets All-Star Russell Westbrook played well against the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, helping his team earn a 112-97 victory. However, he struggled to find any sort of rhythm in Game 2, which is just one reason why this series is now tied at one game apiece.
Westbrook has had a rough go of it for much of these playoffs since returning from a quad injury. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni was even asked about potentially reducing Westbrook’s minutes when he’s struggling after the Game 2 debacle.
D’Antoni scoffed at the notion, but should he think about benching his star point guard if he’s hurting the team?
Benching Russell Westbrook seems like an extreme measure, but there are those who argue that it may actually help the Rockets to keep him out of games if he’s not playing well. The Brodie has racked up 12 turnovers through the first two games of this series. Turnovers were also an issue against the Oklahoma City Thunder, especially in a Game 6 collapse. Clearly, ball security has been a problem.
Scoring is another area in which Westbrook is currently struggling. He had just 10 points in Game 2, finishing with seven turnovers and a minus-14 on the stat sheet. He was 4-of-15 from the field and 1-of-7 from downtown in the 117-109 loss. The guard is averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 assists in the playoffs while shooting just 39.1% from the field in the playoffs and a putrid 16.7% on 3-pointers. The Lakers aren’t even bothering to guard Westbrook when he’s beyond the arc:
The Rockets trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half of Game 2. Yet, despite Westbrook’s poor performance, Houston remained competitive, scoring 41 points in the third quarter. It simply wasn’t enough, though, as Los Angeles managed to carry the day.
“It’s on me. I don’t point fingers at anybody else,” Westbrook said of his poor performance in Game 2. “I own my mistakes. I own what I do and that’s that. “Right now I’m just running around,” Westbrook added. “I’ve got to look at film and figure out how to be effective,” Westbrook said.
Again, Russell Westbrook is returning from that troublesome quad injury and still trying to find that form that had him playing some of the best basketball in his career earlier in the season. The Rockets have been keeping an eye on his minutes, but the team is going to need him going forward.
While Westbrook is struggling, we’re still with Mike D’Antoni on this one. The Rockets coach should ride with one of his star players. There may be certain situations where D’Antoni has to make a tough decision with Westbrook’s minutes, but in general, the point guard should be playing.
If Russell Westbrook’s offense continues to be an issue, the Rockets star can still make an impact by focusing on defense:
Westbrook knows he has to be better, but he remains defiant that he’s in some deep funk that he needs to get out of:
Game 3 between the Rockets and Lakers is set to tip at 9:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, with TNT having live broadcast coverage. Let’s see if Russell Westbrook manages to bounce back.