Russell Westbrook returned three negative COVID-19 tests in 24 hours and was cleared to play against the Minnesota Timberwolwes. Westbrook arrived from Dallas to Minneapolis approximately six hours before the game and he was tested upon his arrival.
Westbrook didn't have a great performance as he posted 14 points in a 110-92 loss to the Timberwolwes. "It's craziness," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before Friday's game when asked about his players going in and out of the protocols.
"I don't know what the answer is, but it's not like anything I've seen before or dealt with before as a coach, coming into games and guys just in and out of the lineups like this." Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas made his season debut against the Timberwolwes and led the Lakers with 19 points.
"The dopest moment for me? When I checked in the game and they really cheered for me," Thomas said afterward. "And this is an away game. Those moments mean more to me than anything, just because people respect what I do and people respect the grind that I'm on.
And I think me being 5-9 helps. Like, I'm the normal person's height, so people cheer for me just because of that."
Westbrook was cleared but Malik Monk wasnt
Monk was initially cleared to play but that changed.
"I mean, look, it's very detailed, nuanced and complex, the protocols," Vogel explained. "And the league takes each case, literally case by case, and they measure in all the factors of the testing and all the medical factors.
And you can be cleared for one thing and not another. For instance, he was cleared to travel with us but was not cleared to be out of the protocols just yet. So, that didn't happen. We thought we were heading in that direction, but it didn't happen."
Vogel didn't want to reveal which players on his team were experiencing symptoms and which weren't. "I think there's just a sentiment around the world -- especially in sports -- if the symptoms aren't that bad, why are we being held out? But obviously, everybody understands why," Vogel said.
"These are the best competitors in the world. They want to be in there. So, if there's frustration, it's centered around wanting to be in there." Meanwhile, LeBron James was hoping the Lakers would quickly forget the Timberwolwes loss.
"Hopefully, we get past it soon and we can really get to who we are as a team," James said. "What we are capable of, who we're on the floor with and not having guys in and out so much."