Vogel full of praise for 'spectacular' Westbrook after late miss
Russell Westbrook missed a clutch three-pointer late on against the Charlotte Hornets, as the Los Angeles Lakers lost yet again
Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel had no issues with Russell Westbrook going for gold late on in Friday's defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.
Without the injured LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers went down 117-114 to Charlotte, as they slipped to 24-26 for the season.
It was a second successive defeat for the Lakers, who have won just three games out of their last 10, a slump that has put Vogel under pressure.
In the absence of his fellow star players, Westbrook did his utmost to push Los Angeles over the line, scoring 35 points and adding four rebounds and five assists.
Crucial miss for Lakers
Yet it was Westbrook who missed a crucial three-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining, the point guard having gone for glory with the Lakers trailing by two points, instead of trying to take the game to overtime.
Westbrook's effort hit the rim, leaving P.J. Watson to go up the other end and add a further point for the Hornets with a free throw.
Vogel defended his decision to take Westbrook off in the final stages of a defeat to the Indiana Pacers earlier this month, but after Friday's game, the Lakers coach was keen to stress his appreciation of the 33-year-old's performance.
"The hottest guy in the gym has the ball in his hands ready to make a play," Vogel told reporters when asked for his thoughts on Westbrook's decision to go for the three points.
"He was three for six from the three in the second half and went for the win. He knocks that down, we're talking about one hell of a win.
"It just didn’t go down for us. Russell was spectacular in that second half. He just really willed our team into an opportunity to steal one on the road.
"I really appreciated Russell's performance tonight. I really want to credit [him]. He was very determined tonight."
"I had just made two [three-pointers] just before that, so I will live and die with that one," said Westbrook, who has 945 points to his name this season at an average of 18.9 per game.
Miles Bridges was tasked with marking Westbrook in the fourth, a tussle the Hornets' small forward – who had 26 points – enjoyed.
"I know he didn’t want to go to overtime," Bridges explained. "I tried to get a good contest on him."
Westbrook added: "I think [Miles] was trying to say I was too small or something, but that ain't the case and he knows better than that.
"It was definitely on my mind and I was like, ok, that's going to be a good trigger for me. I was able to turn it up a little notch, especially during that time of the game."
Atlanka Hawks up next
The Lakers are back in action on Sunday, against the Atlanta Hawks.
The teams met earlier in January, before the Lakers' dismal run, with Los Angeles claiming a 134-118 home win.
Los Angeles' points tally in that win was the most they had scored in a game against Atlanta since 1993 (135).