Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel felt his team's struggles in their defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans reflected a "disjointed" season after they lost 114-111 in a "playoff game".

The Lakers were beaten despite strong performances from their two biggest stars, as LeBron James racked up 38 points and eight rebounds while Anthony Davis returned from injury with 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes.

C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram combined for 61 points for the Pelicans, who are now almost assured of their place in the play-in tournament.

The Lakers' play-in tournament chances took a massive hit with the loss – which moved their record to 4-16 in their past 20 games – sitting one game behind the San Antonio Spurs in the race for the 10 seed, with a difficult remaining schedule.

Speaking with post-game media, Vogel said he had no choice but to play James and Davis for extended minutes and cut down the rotation.

 "I think potentially [they were affected by fatigue down the stretch], but this was a playoff-mindset type of game, so those guys want to be in there," he said.

"We're communicating constantly throughout the game. I think both of them would say [they did not play too many minutes] – it's a playoff game, you got to be in there, you've got to compete. 

"This was a playoff game for us, so you use the roster however you see fit, given that matchup.

"C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram as a tandem, and with [Jonas] Valanciunas, those three guys are as good as just about any three you can put together in the league. That's why they're one of the hottest teams in the league.

"It's why we liked what Avery [Bradley] could bring to the table, and using Dwight [Howard] on Jonas as much as possible, but the guys who fell out of the rotation [including Talen Horton-Tucker and Austin Reaves] was just due to matchup."

Vogel felt the Lakers' issues scoring down the stretch were a microcosm of their campaign.

"I think it's the nature of the disjointed season that we've had – these guys haven't been on the floor in six weeks together," he said.

"We played last night – it was a tough travel situation getting in late and having to play an important game today, we just fell short. Those are the little things that are the difference between winning and losing.

"I won't look at [10th seed] San Antonio at all – obviously we'll find out what their scores look like, but our focus has to be on what we can control, and that's winning the next game."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel slammed his side's performance in Tuesday's 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks as they slipped out of the play-in spots.

The Lakers, who were without LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (foot), slumped to 11th spot in the Western Conference with a 31-44 record.

In the race for the final play-in spot in the west, the Lakers are behind the San Antonio Spurs, who have the same record but are ahead on the tie-breaker.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 37 points in the Mavs defeat where Luka Doncic (34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists) recorded a triple-double.

Vogel labelled the performance as "not good enough in any way" and refused to be drawn into discussing their slide outside the play-in positions.

"The standings are the results," Vogel told reporters. "We have to keep our focus on the process and the work and the things that are going to lead to our next win. That's the only place that our focus will be."

He added: "We always learn from every game. It won't be any different despite the huge deficit in this game."

James has been outstanding on an individual level this season, leading the NBA for points per game at 30.1 ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.9) and Joel Embiid (29.9).

The four-time MVP's absence was felt against the Mavericks, with the Lakers slipping to 4-13 since the All-Star Break.

"With those guys [James and Davis] out, we're at a talent deficit, so the focus and execution has to make up for it," Vogel said.

"This is just the latest dose of adversity that this year's team has faced. We've been playing some really good basketball of late.

"When you lose Bron, okay, you have to adjust yet again throughout a season of setbacks. We have to find footing. We didn’t find it in the second half the other night and we certainly didn't find it."

Playing a role in managing LeBron James' legacy has contributed to this being the toughest season Frank Vogel has experienced as an NBA coach. 

The Los Angeles Lakers have significantly underperformed in 2021-22 and sit 10th in the Western Conference – the final play-in spot – with eight regular season games to play. 

Injuries have limited Anthony Davis to just 37 appearances, while LeBron James has missed 19 games and they have only played together 21 times. Russell Westbrook has also struggled to show why LA paid such a high price to acquire him from the Washington Wizards. 

The Lakers were considered one of the favourites to win the championship this season but are in very real danger of missing out on the playoffs entirely. 

Although Davis, who has been out with a foot injury since February 16, was a full participant in Monday's practice, James sat out due to an ankle injury sustained in Sunday's defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans – a game in which the Lakers blew a 23-point lead. 

Vogel felt the injury situation was typical of the team's season and cited having a part to play in ensuring James enjoys a strong finish to his career as a factor in making it so tough for him to navigate. 

Asked if it had been his hardest year as a coach, Vogel replied: "I would say probably, just because of the expectations we've had. 

"We've had too many really difficult nights and I think there's an element of being a part of managing LeBron's legacy in these final years of his career. 

"You wanna just give him the best opportunity to have team success throughout that, so when we haven't won at the level that we wanted to it's been challenging. And the losses have been heavier. But we've been able to continue to mend and rebuild our team psyche and keep a belief in what we can be. Obviously this last injury [to James] hurts that. 

"But we had a good day today. We came in and we got really positive feedback and work on our film session, had a live practice session which we haven't had in quite some time, and hopefully we can still get a W tomorrow [Tuesday, against the Dallas Mavericks] and finish strong." 

After scoring 11 points in the first quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' 116-108 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, LeBron James suffered an ankle injury early in the second term that he called "horrible".

James ended up staying in the game, and went on to score 39 points on 14-of-27 shooting, but he admitted after the game that it was more serious than he hoped.

After scoring 69 points in the first half, the Lakers were a different side after the break, scoring just 39 points over the final two quarters while the Pelicans scored 41 in the third quarter alone.

Speaking to post-game media, James said he would have "probably not" finished the game if he did not feel it was a crucial fixture for his side.

"I have no idea how I finished the game after watching the replay, it was pretty nasty," he said.

"I lost all explosiveness… a lot of my game was on the perimeter after that. It's horrible right now.

"From the time that I turned my ankle I felt a sharp pain run up my leg and get hot, and I've been there with ankle sprains before, but I didn't want to come out of the game.

"I understood how big of a game it was for us."

James was blunt when describing how it felt to come up short in a game that was built up as a near must-win internally.

"It feels like sh** – excuse my language, but that's what it feels like," he said.

"I came in with the mindset understanding that it was a playoff-type atmosphere with playoff implications.

"We also have a lot of guys in our ball club who haven't played in playoff games as well… [New Orleans] have guys who have been in the postseason.

"It feels like a wasted opportunity."

Also speaking with post-game media, head coach Frank Vogel preached urgency as the playoffs rapidly approach.

"Time's running out on us – we came out with the proper urgency for this game, but weren't able to close it," he said.

"It's over, this game is over, and we have to turn the page to the next one.

"It's not good – it hurts, this was a big game – but we have to regroup and find a way to beat Dallas and get some wins down the stretch here."

On James' injury, Vogel said it was a brave effort to stick it out until the end.

"It's tough – it has been that kind of season, and [James] was in an incredible groove when it happened," he said.

"Credit to him for toughing it out – you could see that he was limited on it somewhat the rest of the way, but he battled through it."

LeBron James is deserving of MVP consideration but the Los Angeles Lakers' 31-42 record will work against him according to head coach Frank Vogel.

The four-time MVP has had an outstanding season for the Lakers, averaging a career-high 30.0 points per game, which is also the best in the NBA this season ahead of Joel Embiid (29.8) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.7).

James has played 54 of the Lakers' 73 games, shooting at 52 per cent from the field while averaging 8.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks.

The 37-year-old, however, has single-handedly carried the Lakers, who are 10th in the Western Conference and scrapping to make the Play-In Tournament.

"He is as deserving for MVP consideration as anybody in the league," Vogel told reporters on Friday.

"I know how the voting goes - the team with the best record or top couple of records usually gets most of those considerations, so the win-loss record definitely would probably hurt him.

"But you can't tell me that anybody has played a better season than LeBron James has this year."

Embiid, whose Philadelphia 76ers are 45-27, and Nikola Jokic, whose Denver Nuggets are 43-31, are the current favourites for the MVP, with James believed to be behind the likes of Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan and Devin Booker.

The 76ers center is averaging 29.8 points with 48 per cent shooting from the field along with 11.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists this season.

Reigning MVP Jokic is averaging 26.2 points at 57 per cent shooting with 13.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists and has had a league-high 18 triple-doubles.

Frank Vogel was keen to take the time to acknowledge LeBron James' achievement in passing Karl Malone despite the Los Angeles Lakers' 127-119 defeat to the Washington Wizards.

With 38 points against the Wizards, James moved ahead of Malone (36,928) onto 36,947 for his career, now trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) all-time.

For James, who has played 197 games fewer than Abdul-Jabbar, this was a 31st 30-point game of the season – behind only Joel Embiid (33).

Lakers team-mate Russell Westbrook described this latest accomplishment as "an amazing feat to witness", while Carmelo Anthony said he was "still in awe" of James.

James insisted he could not "separate" his own performance from the defeat – "all I care about is wins and losses," he explained – but that was not a stance Vogel agreed with.

"It's bittersweet, but I think it's important to separate it," the coach said.

"This is a moment of time that we can't get caught up in the pain of this loss and [must] recognise what an incredible feat this is for LeBron, doing it in the fashion that he did it.

"He just attacked the game tonight. He came in and was aggressive on both sides of the ball, the second night of a back-to-back, really playing with incredible energy after playing 45 minutes last night.

"It was just a signature performance in a game where he passes one of the greats and becomes the second all-time leading scorer in the history of the game.

"It's really impressive, and I'm super happy for him. It's awesome."

For a player so focused on results, this has been a tough season for James, with the loss leaving the Lakers just half a game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans in ninth in the West at 30-41.

This is despite James' 29.8 points per game – the third-highest mark of his career and highest since 2007-08.

"It's just an incredible game, an incredible season, and I don't know where we'd be without him," Vogel said.

Happily for the Lakers, as they look set for the play-in game, Vogel believes James is still getting better.

"This year's no different. The fact that it's later in his career and he's still doing it at this level is different," he added.

"Obviously, the way he's continuing to evolve his game with the deep shooting, with the turnaround, fadeaway jump shot that Kobe [Bryant] and Michael [Jordan] had later in his career... He's growing as a receiver. That part is special."

Frank Vogel says LeBron James' game time is "always a concern" after the four-time MVP played a team-high 40 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

James starred for the Lakers in the previous day's defeat to the Phoenix Suns but was listed as questionable for Monday's clash with the Raptors due to soreness in his right knee.

The Lakers were 6-12 without James heading into the contest at Crypto.com Arena and Vogel took a gamble of sorts by not only using James but keeping him on the court for longer than any other player.

He delivered another impressive display with 30 points and nine rebounds, yet it was not enough to halt the Lakers' poor run as they fell to an eighth defeat in 10 games to go 29-39 for the season.

Despite James' fitness concerns, Lakers head coach Vogel is comfortable with his decision to keep the 37-year-old on the court against the Raptors, who won for a fourth straight game.

"It's always a concern," Vogel, who was in constant dialogue with James, said when asked about the forward's minutes. "But you feel the game out. There was enough stoppages. It's not always the total minutes on here. 

"It's what kind of flow the game has and there was enough stoppages that we never left like he was being too taxed."


James has played 1,845 minutes this season, which is second behind only Russell Westbrook (2,299) among Lakers players.

He has 1,487 points for the campaign and has averaged 29.7 across his 50 games, a tally that is bettered only by Joel Embiid (29.9).

Despite James' efforts, the Lakers left themselves with too much to do against the Raptors after finding themselves 24 points down in the first.

The hosts hit back to make it 109-97 with just over two minutes to go, but the comeback fell short.

Reflecting on another disappointing night for his side, a frustrated Carmelo Anthony said: "If you take away the first quarter, we won the game. We can't be digging ourselves holes or whatever. 

"We've been digging ourselves holes to start games off with. We did it against Phoenix, we did it again today. We find ourselves in those positions often this season."

Frank Vogel led the praise for LeBron James after the four-time MVP scored 50 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 122-109 win over the Washington Wizards.

James reached the half-century mark for the 15th time in his illustrious career, and a second time in the space of three games, to inspire the Lakers' comeback victory.

The 37-year-old was 18 of 25 from the field and made six 3-points in the space of 36 minutes as Vogel's side rallied to snap a two-game losing streak and improve to 29-37.

He is the first Lakers player with 50-or-more points in back-to-back home games since Kobe Bryant in 2007 after hitting 56 against the Golden State Warriors last week.

Adding to his growing list of records, James is also the first player in NBA history to have a 50-point game followed by a triple-double followed by another 50-point game.

Nineteen years on from starting his career at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Vogel is amazed by James' longevity at the top of the sport.

"He's really good at basketball, that LeBron James," Vogel told reporters after the game. 

"I think what stands out to me is the league has never seen a player at his stage of his career do what he's doing. Just an incredible, unbelievable, epic performance."


With six rebounds against the Wizards, James moved past Dikembe Mutombo into 12th place on the NBA's career defensive rebounds list with 8,553.

He is just two assists away from becoming the first player ever to reach 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists in NBA history.

Reflecting on another standout display, James said: "We just needed to pick our energy up and get more detailed about how we wanted to attack the Wizards. 

"We did that, especially in the third quarter. I was able to hit a hot streak at one point. I just tried to stay in that zone as long as possible and hit a couple.

"For us to be able to come in in the third quarter, that's been one of our down quarters this year, held them to 23 points in that third and run off 37. It was big for us."

Malik Monk scored 21 points and Talen Horton-Tucker added 15 for the Lakers, helping to inflict a third defeat in four games on the 29-36 Wizards.

Kristap Porzingis's season-high 14 rebounds and 14 points looked as though it would be enough for the visitors until James took over.

"Bron was exceptional tonight, it's hard to stop him," Porzingis said. "Even at his age, he's still capable of doing incredible things like that.

"Once he got going, it was really hard to stop anything he was doing."

The Lakers return to action on Sunday when they face the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns, who have already booked a playoff spot, while the Wizards face the Portland Trail Blazers.

Gregg Popovich did not answer a single question on his record-tying 1,335th NBA win in his post-game news conference – and Jakob Poeltl revealed there was no discussion of the achievement in the San Antonio Spurs locker room either.

Popovich, in his 26th season with the Spurs, oversaw a 117-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers to move level with Don Nelson's all-time benchmark.

But the five-time champion and three-time Coach of the Year reserved no time for reflection on that feat in a short chat with the media.

Popovich preferred instead to discuss the Spurs' poor free-throw shooting, their "sloppy" first half and a strong defensive showing.

And Poeltl suggested it was a similar story in private, with the center – who had 18 points – expecting the 73-year-old to remain humble when he moves past Nelson with his next win.

"You guys know Pop," Poeltl said. "I don't think he really cares about stuff like that.

"It didn't even really get mentioned. I doubt it will get mentioned when we get the next win. It's just how he is."

It was left to Lakers coach Frank Vogel to salute his opposite number's accomplishment then.

"[I have] incredible respect for who he is as a coach," Vogel said. "We all, younger coaches, look up to him and admire him and respect what he's done and what he means to our game.

"I'm certainly happy for him. I wish it wasn't against us, but Pop's the best."

LeBron James has been ruled out of the Los Angeles Lakers' game with the San Antonio Spurs on Monday due to "significant" knee soreness.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel revealed the news prior to tip-off with James battling soreness in his knee following Saturday's 56-point display in the 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors.

Vogel said the issue was ongoing and part of the 37-year-old's game-to-game management.

"He had some soreness in the knee the day after the game that [normally] subsides by the next game," Vogel told reporters pre-game.

"When we got here [San Antonio] the soreness today was still significant enough for us to rule him out."

The Lakers are struggling with a 28-35 record seeing them sit ninth in the Western Conference but James has been exceptional this season.

The 2003 number one Draft pick is averaging 29.4 points per game this season, behind only Joel Embiid with 29.5.

James, who is also averaging 8.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists this season, has the fourth highest league-wide minutes per game this season with 36.8.

"With the heavy load that he's carrying for us this year, we know that's [games out] always a possibility," Vogel said.

"That's why we continue to list him as questionable to see how it responds in the 48 hours between games. This is just one of those days where it was significant enough to hold him out."

Vogel said he was "hopeful" the four-time NBA MVP would be fit to play the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

"There's no words" for LeBron James' brilliance after his 56-point haul in the Los Angeles Lakers' 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors, according to head coach Frank Vogel.

James almost single-handedly hauled the Lakers over the line, rallying from a half-time deficit with a 35-22 fourth quarter to end their four-game losing run.

The four-time NBA MVP's 56 points was his most as a Laker and tied for the third most in a single game in his storied 19-year career.

James labelled it a "desperation" win after the game, shooting 19-of-31 from the field along with six-of-11 from beyond the arc, with 10 rebounds and three assists.

“There’s no words for it," Vogel told reporters after the game. "An incredible performance by the best to ever do it in my opinion."

James' 56-point haul meant he became the fourth player aged 37 or older to score 50 or more points in a single game, alongside Michael Jordan (2001), Kobe Bryant (2016) and Jamal Crawford (2019).

"It's just remarkable, his will," Vogel added. "What he's done to transition his game to this stage of his career, in terms of his shooting, it's an example to every player to put the work into his craft.

"it's just remarkable to be doing it at this stage in his career."

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr added: “He was brilliant tonight. LeBron was amazing."

The win improves the Lakers' record to 28-35, sitting ninth in the Western Conference ahead of the final stretch of games before the playoffs.

"It feels like earlier in the season when we first lost Anthony [Davis], we lost five in a row, we were in an adjustment phase and trying to figure it out," Vogel said. "Hopefully this is the win that changes that momentum."

LeBron James is adamant the Los Angeles Lakers are still capable of ending their season on a high, despite falling to a sixth defeat in seven games on Tuesday.

The Lakers lost 109-104 to the Dallas Mavericks at Crypto.com Arena to slide to a season-worst seven games below .500, leaving them ninth in the Western Conference.

James led the scoring with 26 points, one more than Mavs star Luka Doncic, but it was not enough for the 27-34 hosts as their poor run continued.

But despite the Lakers' ongoing struggles, James is not ready to write off the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign with 21 games of the regular season still to go.

"We still have games to play," he told reporters. "Until you stomp me out, cut my head off, bury me 12 feet under, then I got a chance. So that's my confidence.

"Obviously, at the end of the day, we got to come in here and win ball games and we got to play better but as long as we've got more games to play, we should have a chance.

"I feel like poop right now. But tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to be prepared and ready for the Clippers on Thursday. That's just my mindset. That's just who I am."

James has missed 17 games this season through injury, but the 37-year-old shot down suggestions he will use the final stages of this season as an opportunity to rest up.

"The only way it'll be back to full strength is with rest," he said. "But I don't have the luxury of having rest. It can wait until the off-season."


The Lakers made up a 21-point deficit to lead 100-94 with seven minutes to play, but 11 consecutive points ensured the Mavericks claimed an eighth win in 10 outings.

Luka Doncic stepped up by scoring seven of his 25 points in the final quarter and is now averaging 27.5 per game for the season – a tally bettered by only six others.

"We stayed together and just executed the game plan, played the game," Doncic said. "My mentality is to close the game with the best shot possible."

Los Angeles managed only four points in the final seven-plus minutes and head coach Frank Vogel accepted there is a lot to improve on.

"Our guys really competed," he said. "Our helpers really competed, but he had that stretch in crunch time where he scored a few buckets in a row. 

"It wasn't good enough. It hurts. All these guys are hurting in there. We're putting in the work."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel insists there is alignment and good energy within his roster despite letting the trade deadline pass without making any moves.

The Lakers were one of the big players with player movement during the off-season but have struggled to 26-30 record this season.

Russell Westbrook's acquisition has not brought the hoped impact and he was linked with a trade but that did not materialise, nor any other potential moves.

The Lakers' inaction has reportedly led to some friction between vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and star pair LeBron James and Anthony Davis but Vogel downplayed that, insisting there was good energy within the roster.

"I think there's just a natural reset energy to our group, knowing that the trade deadline has passed," Vogel told reporters.

"This is the group that we put together to start the year. This is a group we believe in."

Vogel had said "if there's a way to improve our team, we'll improve our team" ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, while he also acknowledged the team's energy "isn’t good right now" after Tuesday's 131-116 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

But the Lakers head coach was buoyed by Friday's practice and film session ahead of Saturday's game with the Golden State Warriors and a potential run down the stretch to push for the playoffs.

"I think with that deadline passing and having a refreshed mindset today, our group had really good energy about going out and trying to win a game [Saturday] and understanding and believing in what we can do this year," Vogel said.

Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel has not ruled out a trade involving Russell Westbrook ahead of Thursday's deadline.

Nine-time NBA All-Star Westbrook missed his first game of the season on Wednesday as the Lakers fell to a 107-105 defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The 33-year-old's absence was put down to a back injury sustained the previous evening against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook spent the final quarter of that game watching from the sidelines, having earlier been jeered by his own fans, and later questioned Vogel's rotation policy.

That has done little to help the relationship between Westbrook and Vogel, with strong suggestions the 2017 MVP could be on his way out.

And rather than put an end to those rumours on the back of the defeat to Portland, Vogel instead offered a rather cryptic response.

Asked if there is a chance Westbrook will not be a part of the team once the trade deadline passes, Vogel said: "If there's a way to improve our team, we'll improve our team. 

"I've got nothing else to say about the trade deadline."


Westbrook, traded to the Lakers from the Washington Wizards last August, has 1,006 points for the season, a tally bettered only by LeBron James (1,133) among Lakers players.

But Westbrook's 18.3 average through 55 games is his lowest since 2009-10, and down from the 31.6 managed with Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016-17 when crowned MVP.

He was on court for just 26 minutes against the Bucks prior to hinting at his displeasure with Vogel, who in response insisted no player is bigger than the team.

"The needs of the team always come first," he said on Wednesday. "We have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the Lakers a win. 

"Sometimes he's going to be in there for that, sometimes he's not."

The Lakers have now lost six of their last eight games and are 26-30 for the season, with a winning percentage of .464 placing them ninth in the Western Conference.

James, who top-scored for the Lakers against the Trail Blazers with 30 points, admitted the trade rumours are having a negative impact on his side.

"Obviously it's something that's weighing on this group that we're trying to all get through," he said.

"It almost feels like fog in the air and we're all trying to see what's on the other side of it."

Russell Westbrook does not feel he has anything to prove as he made light of being booed by his own Los Angeles Lakers fans during Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The nine-time NBA All-Star was benched in the fourth quarter for the second game running as the Lakers fell to a fifth defeat in seven outings, going down 131-116.

With nine minutes remaining at the Crypto.com Arena and his side down by 24 points, Westbrook was jeered after making two turnovers in the space of 12 seconds.

But Westbrook, who was traded to the Lakers from the Washington Wizards last August, is not letting the negative reaction get to him.

"It's a sign of respect," he said while smiling. "My mindset and how I think about this game and what I've been able to do for this game is not predicated on boos.

"I've a platform that I'm able to use to be able to do other things that God has blessed me to be able to do and I will continue to do those things.

"That's regardless of whether people boo for me, cheer for me, cuss me out, call me names, it doesn't really matter.

"The most important part is that I continue to use my gift to be able to play basketball and use that platform to be able to help other people around the world. That's all I can do."


Westbrook had 10 points off 3-of-11 shooting, 10 assists and four turnovers on another disappointing day for the Lakers' former MVP.

He has 1,006 points for the season, a tally bettered only by LeBron James (1,103) among Lakers players.

But Westbrook's 18.3 average through 55 games is his lowest since 2009-10, and down from the 31.6 managed with Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016-17 when crowned MVP.

However, responding to criticism regarding his loss of form, Westbrook said: "I shouldn't have to prove anything to anyone, to be honest. 

"I've put so much work into my game and I've earned so much respect in the league. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. 

"I've earned the right to be in the closing line-up standing.

"The numbers confirm it. I don't have to go into it any further. But I don't have to decide, that's the decision of the coach. Unfortunately, I just have to see how I deal with it."

Westbrook was on the court for just 26 minutes against the Bucks and suggested after the game he is not happy with Frank Vogel's constantly changing line-ups.

"You never know when you're coming in, you never know when you're coming out," he said. "You never know when you're playing, you never know... a bunch of things. 

"I'm speaking personally, so it's a difficult process to be able to figure out and create some rhythm and some consistency where we can see what we're able to do as a team.

"But those decisions are made by him and his coaching staff, and you've got to live with it and move on."

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