Russell Westbrook told a San Antonio Spurs fan not to "disrespect my name" and vowed to do so again as he stood by his wife's claims of death wishes.

Before Westbrook played in the Los Angeles Lakers' 117-110 defeat to the Spurs, his wife Nina revealed abuse she had received.

She wrote on Twitter: "When I'm being harassed on a daily basis over basketball games, and I'm having obscenity's [sic] and death wishes for me and my family sent my way because you're expressing your 'truth', it's hard for me to get on board with that."

And after the game, former NBA MVP Westbrook said: "I 100 per cent stand behind my wife and how she's feeling.

"It's not just this year. She's reached a point and my family has reached a point where it's really weighing on them.

"It's very unfortunate just for me personally because this is just a game, this is just a game. This is not end all, be all."

Westbrook has endured a tough season with the Lakers, for whom he is earning more than superstar team-mates LeBron James and Anthony Davis in 2021-22.

But the 33-year-old – who is averaging 18.1 points per game, his lowest mark since 2009-10 – has decided criticism of his displays is going too far when it involves abusing his family name.

"When it comes to basketball, I don't mind the criticism of missing and making shots," he continued. "But the moment it becomes where my name is getting shamed, it becomes an issue."

Westbrook revealed his approach had been altered by hearing of the pride his son, Noah, had in his surname, causing the Lakers star to push back at his "Westbrick" nickname.

"'Westbrick' for example, to me, is now shaming," he said. "It's shaming my name, my legacy for my kids.

"It's a name that means [a lot], not just to me, but to my wife, to my mom, my dad, the ones that kind of paved the way for me.

"A lot of times, I let it slide. But now it's time to put a stop to that and put it on notice. There's a difference. We need to make sure it's understood.

"And every time I do hear it now, I will make sure that I address it and make sure I nip that in the bud."

A struggling Russell Westbrook declared "I'm not a quitter" after another night to forget in the Los Angeles Lakers' defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook has failed to hit the heights since joining the Lakers from the Washington Wizards in August.

The 2017 MVP could only muster a 17-point haul in a heavy 132-111 loss to the Clippers on Thursday and averages just 18.1 points this season.

That is now four successive defeats for the Lakers, who are ninth in the Western Conference at 27-35 as they continue to fall short without the injured Anthony Davis.

Westbrook said he had been dealing with critics since he was born and was involved in a tense exchange with a reporter after the Lakers' latest loss.

But the 33-year-old insists he will not be throwing the towel in.

"My role and what I'm doing has changed every single night, so I'm just trying to figure that out as I'm playing and to be able to benefit and help my team," he said.

"But my expectations are still the same. I'm not a quitter. It's not in my genes. I don't quit, regardless of what the hell is going on. I'm going to fight to the end and if it don't work, that’s cool, too.

"I can live with the results. But I’m never going to give up or give in because of a little struggle that’s happening this time of the year."

 

Westbrook says he did not sign for the Lakers with the expectation that it would all be plain sailing.

"Expectation? I come into every situation the same," he said. "The last four years I've been on different teams, so my vision of kind of everything is going to be peaches and cream, I don't. 

"That's not life. So for me I come into every situation, start from ground zero and try to figure it out along the way."

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.

Russell Westbrook has claimed his back injury stems from "sitting down for long stretches" on the Los Angeles Lakers' bench.

Westbrook and the Lakers have endured a dismal season following his move from the Washington Wizards.

The former MVP, who averaged a triple-double last year for the fourth time in his career, has struggled to have an impact for a Lakers team who have missed star men LeBron James and Anthony Davis for long periods.

Westbrook is averaging 18.3 points – his lowest mark since his second season in the NBA in 2009-10 – along with 7.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel has seemingly lost faith in the point guard, who has started all 55 games this year but is finding himself on the bench at crunch time.

Twice in 2022 Westbrook has not played a single second for the Lakers in the fourth quarter – most recently in their last game, a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Before the Bucks defeat, Westbrook was also kept on the bench for the entirety of overtime against the New York Knicks, having scored a season-low five points on 1-of-10 shooting in 29 minutes.

The player was then missing from this week's Portland Trail Blazers game that followed the Bucks' visit, and he – along with James – has been listed as questionable for Saturday's game at the Golden State Warriors.

Asked to explain the back pain that is keeping him out of action, Westbrook said on Friday: "It comes and goes.

"I'm not accustomed to sitting down for long stretches and getting up and then, like, moving quickly. It kind of stiffens up a little bit."

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 played no part as the Los Angeles Lakers fell to a 107-105 defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

A day after hinting at his unhappiness at coach Frank Vogel, and with lingering doubts over his future ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, Westbrook watched from the bench.

It is the first game the nine-time All-Star has missed all season, though Vogel could at least still call upon the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis from the beginning.

James scored 30 points for the Lakers, who led 54-47 at half-time, only for the depleted Trail Blazers to slowly turn things around before rallying in the fourth quarter.

Anfernee Simons led the scoring for Portland with 29 points, while Jusuf Nurkic added 19 points and 12 rebounds as the hosts held on to snap a six-game losing streak.

 


Bogdanovic and Mitchell inspire Jazz to victory

The Golden State Warriors' nine-game winning streak was ended in emphatic style as they fell to a 111-85 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

Without the injured Rudy Gobert for an eighth game, the Jazz were inspired to victory by 23-point Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Warriors, without Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and James Wiseman, finished with a shooting percentage of 36 per cent in what was their heaviest defeat of the season.

DeRozan stars again

Five-time NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan was serenaded by "MVP!" chants after scoring 36 points in the Chicago Bulls' 121-109 victory over the out-of-form Charlotte Hornets.

DeRozan hit 30 points for a fourth game running, during which time he has averaged 37.5 points, while Nikola Vucevic finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Darius Garland's 27 points on his return from a back injury helped the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 105-92 win against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Toronto Raptors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 117-98 for their seventh straight win and the Sacramento Kings were 132-119 victors against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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."

LeBron James launched a staunch defence of "brother" and Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Russell Westbrook, insisting "we're all in this together".

Point guard Westbrook has bore the brunt of criticism during a disjointed Lakers season that has left the team below the .500 mark.

Acquired from the Washington Wizards, Westbrook was brought in to play a part in a stellar cast alongside James and Anthony Davis, but things have not worked out too well in LA.

Westwood is averaging 18.4 points (tied 35th), 7.8 rebounds (tied 34th) and 7.7 assists (tied ninth) per game. The 33-year-old was benched for the entirety of overtime in the Lakers 122-115 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday having made just one of 10 field goals.

It was the fifth time in 2021-22 Westbrook made only three field goals or less from 10 attempts, while his numbers in points, rebounds, assists, steals, field-goal percentage and three-point percentages all rank lower than they did with the Wizards last season.

There has even been talk that the Lakers may try and find Westbrook a new home before Thursday's trade deadline, but James said the team's issues cannot be pinned on one player.

"At the end of the day, as his brother, we're all in this together," James told reporters after Monday's practice. 

"We're all in the foxhole together. There is not one guy who is doing it by themselves. There's not one guy you can blame over another guy.

"There's not one guy who gets the praise over another guy. When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win. It's really that simple."

The Lakers sit ninth in the Western Conference, three games back of the Denver Nuggets in sixth – a position that guarantees avoiding the play-in tournament for the playoffs.

Part of their issues have centred on injuries, with James and Anthony Davis having both missed significant chunks of the season.

Indeed, Westbrook has only played a combined seven games at the same time as his superstar team-mates this season.

"I haven't been part of a season like this where injuries have played such a toll, but also protocols, false protocols, positive protocols, head coach being out for multiple games," James added. 

"So, it's just challenging, a weird sort of different season for all of us. And not just [for the] Lakers, but a lot of teams in the NBA. So, it's kind of impossible to gauge, I guess, previous encounters that you've had, because it's totally different." 

Head coach Frank Vogel said he has spoken to Westbrook after his overtime decision against the Knicks.

"You still communicate afterwards and there was that today," Vogel said. 

"I've always taken pride with my teams in making sure I'm communicating with guys with whatever happens within a game.

"Obviously not every player, every game, but if a certain thing requires a reach out or just a follow-up then we'll have that."

The Lakers are back in action in a blockbuster showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

Anthony Davis stepped up with a double-double in LeBron James' absence as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game skid with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

James was absent for the fourth straight game with a knee issue but Davis took charge with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook contributed with a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 24 points for the Lakers. Norman Powell landed five three-pointers in his 30-point haul for Portland.

The Lakers had raced to a 12-point quarter-time lead but the Blazers narrowed that to one point by half-time before seesawing second half which went down to the final moments.

The win means the Lakers improve to 25-27 but remain ninth in the Western Conference.

Embiid, LaMelo and Doncic star in defeats

Joel Embiid had 27 points and 14 rebounds but could not lift the Philadelphia 76ers as they went down 106-103 to the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) had a triple-double for the Wizards, while Kyle Kuzma added 24 points.

LaMelo Ball was excellent in a losing side as well, providing a career-high 38 points including four triples with six rebounds and nine assists as the Charlotte Hornets went down 113-107 to the Boston Celtics. Luka Doncic also had 40 points as the Dallas Mavericks lost 120-114 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ja Morant had 23 points, four rebounds and nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won 120-108 over the New York Knicks, while the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 108-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets skid extends to six games

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their sixth straight defeat, their worst skid since January 2020, after a 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings. James Harden, nursing a sore hand, only managed four points shooting two-of-11 from the field, which was his lowest return since May 15 last year.

Anthony Davis stepped up with a double-double in LeBron James' absence as the Los Angeles Lakers ended their three-game skid with a 99-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

James was absent for the fourth straight game with a knee issue but Davis took charge with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook contributed with a double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, while Carmelo Anthony added 24 points for the Lakers. Norman Powell landed five three-pointers in his 30-point haul for Portland.

The Lakers had raced to a 12-point quarter-time lead but the Blazers narrowed that to one point by half-time before seesawing second half which went down to the final moments.

The win means the Lakers improve to 25-27 but remain ninth in the Western Conference.

Embiid, LaMelo and Doncic star in defeats

Joel Embiid had 27 points and 14 rebounds but could not lift the Philadelphia 76ers as they went down 106-103 to the Washington Wizards. Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) had a triple-double for the Wizards, while Kyle Kuzma added 24 points.

LaMelo Ball was excellent in a losing side as well, providing a career-high 38 points including four triples with six rebounds and nine assists as the Charlotte Hornets went down 113-107 to the Boston Celtics. Luka Doncic also had 40 points as the Dallas Mavericks lost 120-114 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ja Morant had 23 points, four rebounds and nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies won 120-108 over the New York Knicks, while the Utah Jazz snapped their five-game skid with a 108-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

Nets skid extends to six games

The Brooklyn Nets slumped to their sixth straight defeat, their worst skid since January 2020, after a 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings. James Harden, nursing a sore hand, only managed four points shooting two-of-11 from the field, which was his lowest return since May 15 last year.

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.

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."

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).

The absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were felt as the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a second successive defeat.

Davis registered 31 points, 12 rebounds in Thursday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but like James missed out through injury on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.

That meant the onus was on Russell Westbrook to step up, and though he had 35 points, he ultimately missed a crucial, game-clinching three-pointer, having decided to go for the win rather than try for overtime.

P.J. Washington secured the rebound after Westbrook's attempt hit the rim, and added further insult with a free throw with 0.2 seconds left on the clock to seal a 117-114 win for Charlotte.

Since a four-game winning streak was snapped by the Memphis Grizzlies on January 9, Los Angeles has won just three of their nine games.

The Hornets, meanwhile, gained revenge for their overtime loss to the Lakers back in November in the only previous meeting this season, ending a six-game losing streak against Los Angeles in the process.

Suns in red-hot form

It is now nine wins in a row for the Phoenix Suns, who lead the NBA with 39 victories in 2021-22 after overcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124.

Devin Booker led the game with 29 points, while Chris Paul had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists and Cam Johnson's tally of 23 points included crucial back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

The Suns' record of 39-9 is the best in franchise history at this stage of a season, and have now won the 30 games in which they have led after three quarters.

While the Suns top the Western Conference, the Miami Heat continued their run at the top of the East by holding off a late push from the Los Angeles Clippers in a 121-114 success.

Miami has now won 10 of their last 12 games and snapped a six-game losing streak against the Clippers, who fought back to within four points but fell short of another comeback after their record-setting efforts against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

All-Star Morant sets franchise record

Ja Morant proved why he has been named an All-Star starter as he delivered a triple-double of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119-109 win for the Grizzlies over the Utah Jazz.

It was the highest-scoring triple-double in franchise history and the fourth overall for Morant, who has scored at least 30 points for five straight games as Memphis moved to 34-17.

DeMar DeRozan's return to San Antonio ended in defeat for the Chicago Bulls, who went down 131-122 to the Spurs.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double in the Denver Nuggets' victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points in an emphatic win for the Milwaukee Bucks over the New York Knicks.

LeBron James has been hailed by Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel as "the most unique player in the history of the game" after his second-half performance at center on Friday.

James finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists after playing exclusively at center in the second half of Friday's 116-105 win over the Orlando Magic.

The four-time MVP was moved into Dwight Howard's role after half-time with the Lakers immediately going on a decisive 20-2 to overcome their 62-54 deficit.

"He's the most unique player in the history of the game," Vogel told reporters about James.

"We won a championship with him playing point guard two years ago, he's been a ball-handling wing throughout his career and he's been playing center for us.

"It's pretty remarkable, and for him to be doing it at this stage of his career, it's even more remarkable."

Vogel also praised Russell Westbrook who was benched in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Westbrook, who joined the Lakers from the Washington Wizards in the off-season, has been the subject of much criticism this season.

The 33-year-old Lakers point guard had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Magic.

“He’s all-in on doing whatever is necessary to get the Lakers in position to win a championship, for sure," Vogel said.

Westbrook added: “I was upset about [being benched on Wednesday] and I was more upset that we didn’t win the game.

"I’ve been here doing my job since day one and doing everything asked of me. I want to continue to do that for the betterment of the team."

Vogel also added that there was no firm timeframe on All-Star forward Anthony Davis' return from a knee injury.

James has scored 25 or more points in 16 consecutive games, which have all coincided with Davis' stint on the sidelines.

Frank Vogel is under pressure at the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James insists no blame can be directed at the coaching staff.

The Lakers' slump continued on Wednesday as a fourth-quarter charge from the Indiana Pacers saw them lose 111-104.

That defeat means the Lakers have now lost four of their last five games. Indeed, it has been reported that Vogel might well have lost his role as head coach had his team not snapped a three-match losing streak by beating the Utah Jazz on Monday.

But a loss to a Pacers team that is 13th in the Eastern Conference and had won just one of their previous 11 games means questions will surely be asked once again.

It was no surprise then that Vogel's future was the topic of conversation in James' post-game media briefing.

"Coaching staff has been great," James told reporters.

"They put us in a position to succeed, and it's up to us to handle the business, so there's always things that we all can do better, but there's no blame.

"I'm not in that business, of pointing fingers or pointing blame. It's not my lane. I'm not a negative person. So if you got something to ask me besides trying to s*** on somebody, I'll answer those. It seems like y'all are in s*** mode right now."

James led the Lakers with 30 points and 12 rebounds, the 10th of which brought up his 10,000th across his regular season career, but his double-double was not enough to stop Los Angeles slipping below .500 in the Western Conference.

 

Carmelo Anthony, who scored 14 points, insisted the players must step up.

"I mean, we got to do it," Anthony said. "It's up to us. Frank's not out there. It's up to us to go out there and execute and play basketball and win some games."

Vogel, meanwhile, acknowledged it was a damaging defeat.

"This is definitely a disappointing loss," Vogel said. "Indy is a team that's sub-.500, that on our home court, we feel like we should win. And you got to win the games you feel like you should win. So, a disappointing loss.

"I meet with our front office. We talk about the previous night's game. Every game. All year. It's been that way for three years. And it's not been different this week or of late.

"Everyone is working together to leave no stone unturned in terms of getting this thing going in the right direction. And we all have a great working relationship where we're trying to figure out things together. We won a championship this way, and I feel good about our process.

"In this business, and with this team, if you're not winning at a super high level, you're going to get this type of noise. I'm good at blocking that out. I feel good about the job that we're doing. I believe in what we can do this year."

Vogel made a big call to take off Russell Westbrook, with the Lakers star having struggled to cope with Indiana's Caris LeVert, who had 30 points.

"I played the guys that I thought were going to win the game," Vogel explained.

Westbrook has 833 points for the season, behind only James (952) in the Lakers' roster.

Russell Westbrook accepts Magic Johnson's damning assessment of the Los Angeles Lakers' form, but says the legendary figure does not know what is going on internally.

The Lakers slumped to a third defeat in a row with a heavy 133-96 loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

Frank Vogel's side, who were without injured Carmelo Anthony for a third straight game, now have a 21-22 record for the season and are seventh in the Western Conference.

The defeat to a Nikola Jokic-inspired Nuggets was the second biggest of LeBron James' 19-year career, and one fellow Lakers icon Johnson felt showed a lack of effort.

"After being blown out by the Nuggets, we as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency," Johnson tweeted. 

"Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better."

Westbrook, who scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, did not want to be drawn into a war of words with Johnson when asked for his reaction to the social media post.

"I do not have a reaction," he said. "Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion – regardless of what that it is. 

"You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you cannot respond to it.

"Magic's entitled to his opinion. And he's not here every day. He's not around us every day. He's not aware of what's going on internally with us and trying to figure things out. 

"But I have no response to that. Like I said, everyone in this world is entitled to their opinion and that's that."

Reigning MVP Jokic recorded another triple-double as the Lakers slumped below .500 again in their defeat to the Nuggets.

Jokic finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists as Denver piled on 73 first-half points before restricting the Lakers to only 36 points in the second half.

And on the back of a humiliating loss, Westbrook concedes his side have to step up ahead of back-to-back home games with the Utah Jazz and the Indiana Pacers. 

"We just got to play hard," he said. "Sometimes, the schemes and how you play doesn't really matter. 

"You got to just play hard sometimes. Teams are playing harder than us, simple as that."

Dwight Howard, whose average of 5.4 points-per-game through 33 outings this season is the lowest of his career, echoed the thoughts of Westbrook.

"It's not too much I can really say about it. We've been saying it all year. I shouldn't have to keep saying. But, you know, he's right," Howard said.

"You can't stop believing that you're gonna win and just say, 'Ah, f**** it, let's give up.

"We know we've put ourselves in a pretty tough predicament, but all it takes is a couple games and some good energy and some positivity. We've just got to stay positive."

The Lakers' 37-point loss to Denver was their largest ever in this fixture and follows defeats to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings in the past week.

"We've got to get back to the drawing board and get our defense right," head coach Vogel said. "We haven't performed well enough in the last two games on that side of the ball."

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