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Lakers–Rockets brawl

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Lakers–Rockets brawl
1234 Total
Houston Rockets 31353226 124
Los Angeles Lakers 28343518 115
DateSaturday, October 20, 2018
VenueStaples Center, Los Angeles
RefereesJason Phillips, Matt Boland, Derrick Collins
Attendance18,997

The Lakers–Rockets brawl occurred in a National Basketball Association (NBA) regular-season game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on October 20, 2018.

Rockets guard Chris Paul and Lakers guard Rajon Rondo each had a history of controversial actions mutually and toward others.[1][2][3] Lakers forward Brandon Ingram was assessed a foul on a fast break by Rockets guard James Harden, so he irately shoved Harden. Afterwards, Paul and Rondo traded insults and blows, creating a brawl between the teams. Rondo, Paul, and Ingram were subsequently suspended and fined for the incidents after an investigation; Ingram's suspension at four games was the longest suspension for an in-game incident in six years.[4]

The NBA was widely criticized for the laxity of the punishments compared to the seriousness of the incident. The game became the most-watched NBA regular-season game in more than two years.[5][6]

History[edit]

Background[edit]

The Rockets had concluded a season in which they won 65 games in the regular-season, and were the #1 seed in the Western Conference. They reached the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors in controversial fashion after seven games.[7] Led by superstars James Harden and Chris Paul, several critics expected them to build off their success in the prior season.[8][9]

Meanwhile, the Lakers were coming into the game after an offseason in which they had signed Cavaliers star forward LeBron James, critically regarded as the best player in the world.[10][11][12] Because of their offseason improvements, the Lakers were projected to break their five-year playoff drought and expectations for the team were very high. The game was James's home debut for the Lakers at Staples. Excitement for the game was high; the game sold out.[13]

A few minutes before the brawl, Lakers guard Josh Hart was clotheslined by Rockets forward James Ennis III on a play.[13] Officials gave Ennis a flagrant 1, but many Lakers weren't pleased with the nature of the play and wanted Ennis to be ejected from the game.[14][15] Hart would later reflect his belief that the foul call had contributed to the belligerent atmosphere that would start the brawl.[15]

Brawl[edit]

With 4:14 left in the fourth quarter and Houston up 109-108, Rockets guard James Harden bumped Lakers forward Brandon Ingram on a fast break. A foul was assessed on Ingram. Upset at the foul call, Ingram shoved Harden. Referee Jason Phillips quickly gave Ingram a technical foul after the shove to which Ingram was irate; he got into Phillips's face and began to argue before teammate Lance Stephenson pulled him away from Phillips.[13][16]

Meanwhile, a group of Lakers and Rockets players had gathered near the Rockets basket, including Rockets guard Chris Paul and Lakers guard Rajon Rondo. While arguing, Paul poked Rondo in the eye, something which Rondo took exception to. He retaliated by punching Paul in the face with his left hand, which then initiated the brawl. Paul quickly began to throw punches at Rondo. Ingram, who was standing at halfcourt, quickly rushed in and landed a punch on him. Paul was quickly restrained by James, close friends with Paul. All three players were subsequently ejected from the game.[13][17]

Aftermath[edit]

Rondo and Paul had prior history between themselves; in a regular-season game in 2009, Rondo confronted Paul after the game had ended. The two had to be restrained after they jawed at each other. Rondo taunted Paul by claiming he would never win a NBA championship. Afterward, Paul allegedly attempted to enter the opposing team's locker room, although he denied the claim and no punishment was given by the league after an investigation.[18][19]

The Rockets subsequently went on a 15-8 scoring run and won the game, 124-115.[13] Shortly after the brawl ended, Rondo's girlfriend feuded with Paul's wife, which Paul took offense to after the game was over.[20][21] Paul and several members of the Rockets organization accused Rondo of instigating the brawl by spitting on Paul.[22] Rondo and Lakers head coach Luke Walton denied the allegations.[22] Rondo claimed that because he had a mouthguard on at the time of the incident, it would have made it difficult for him to spit on Paul and accused Paul of lying about his spitting allegation.[22][23] Some accused Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony of accidentally spitting on Rondo.[24]

The league would later review video evidence submitted by the Rockets, which showed saliva leaving Rondo's face towards Paul.[25][26]

Punishments[edit]

Player Team Suspension length Salary fined
Brandon Ingram Lakers 4 games $158,817
Rajon Rondo Lakers 3 games $186,206
Chris Paul Rockets 2 games $491,782

The next day, the NBA announced suspensions and fines for Ingram, Rondo, and Paul for their involvement in the brawl. They were suspended for a combined total of 9 games and lost a total of $836,804 in salary. NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said that the length of the suspensions was based on a review of each participant's role in the incident.[27][28]

Reactions[edit]

Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony criticized Rondo for spitting on Paul, stating what Rondo did was "unacceptable", violating basic tenets of sportsmanship.[29] Meanwhile, Lance Stephenson was upset at Paul poking Rondo's face, believing he had incited the brawl. Stephenson also went on to claim that the Rockets attempted to bait Lakers players into displaying aggressiveness.[13][16] Rondo believed that the league was going out of their way to support Paul based on his reputation as a "good guy" and called him a "horrible" teammate. Rondo also accused the media and the league of supporting Paul's version of events.[22]

Several league members and commentators, including New York Times reporter Marc Stein, were surprised at the length of the suspensions. Ingram himself believed he was going to receive a tougher punishment.[4][30][31] Some believed that the suspensions did not do enough to discourage future player fighting, although Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni criticized the harsh degree of Paul's punishment, compared to the other players involved in the brawl.[27][30] VanDeWeghe stated that conduct of the nature which occurred was not allowed in the league, and hoped that the punishments would set an example to the players.[28]

See also[edit]

  • Pacers–Pistons brawl
  • Knicks–Nuggets brawl
  • Violence in sports
  • List of people banned or suspended by the NBA

References[edit]

  1. "Kings' Rondo issues stronger apology for gay slur toward ref". The Associated Press. December 15, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "NBA fines Paul $35K for confronting official" (Press release). NBA Media Ventures, LLC. April 29, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  3. Stein, Marc (November 2, 2009). "NBA reviewing exchanges between Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul". ESPN. Retrieved October 12, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stein, Marc (October 21, 2018). "N.B.A Soft-Pedals Suspensions for Lakers and Rockets' Fistfight". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 13, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. Bontemps, Tim (October 21, 2018). "NBA suspends Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul for Lakers-Rockets fracas". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 7, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. "LeBron's Home Opener Big For ESPN". Sports Media Watch. October 23, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. Lowe, Zach; Nichols, Rachel (April 29, 2019). "Rockets audited '18 Game 7, say Finals bid taken". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 24, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Feigen, Jonathan (October 28, 2018). "Anthony: Rockets issues seem worse because of expectations". The Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. Rollins, Khadrice (October 10, 2018). "NBA Power Rankings: Preseason Edition". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  10. Beacham, Greg (July 9, 2018). "It's official: Lakers announce LeBron James has signed". The Associated Press. Retrieved October 13, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  11. Golliver, Ben; Mahoney, Ben (September 10, 2018). "Top 100 NBA Players of 2019". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. Bontemps, Tim (October 15, 2018). "The Top 100 players for the 2018-19 season". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Beacham, Greg (October 21, 2018). "Fight in LeBron's home Lakers debut, 124-115 loss to Houston". The Associated Press. Retrieved October 12, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. Ganguli, Tania (October 24, 2018). "Lakers coach Luke Walton is fined $15,000 by NBA for criticizing officials". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 12, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Goon, Kyle (October 20, 2018). "Fist fight between Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo mars LeBron James' Lakers home debut". The Orange County Register. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Helin, Kurt (October 21, 2018). "Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram all ejected for punches-thrown fight in Rockets win". NBC Sports. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. Ahmed, Shahan (October 21, 2018). "Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram all ejected for punches-thrown fight in Rockets win". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved October 12, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  18. Wojnarowski, Adrian (November 3, 2009). "Paul's frustration grows, even as he hides it". Yahoo! News. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  19. Stein, Marc (November 2, 2009). "NBA reviewing exchanges between Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul". ESPN. Retrieved October 12, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  20. Feldman, Dan (October 22, 2018). "Report: Rajon Rondo's girlfriend confronted Chris Paul's wife in stands after on-court fight". NBC Sports. Retrieved October 11, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  21. Rollins, Khadrice (October 22, 2018). "Report: Rajon Rondo's Girlfriend Confronted Chris Paul's Wife in Stands After Players Fought". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 11, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 "Rajon Rondo: 'Everyone wants to believe Chris Paul is a good guy'". ESPN. October 23, 2018. Retrieved October 13, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  23. Gleeson, Scott (October 23, 2018). "Rajon Rondo denies spitting, says Chris Paul 'trying to make up a story' to be 'good guy'". USA Today. Retrieved October 11, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  24. "Did Carmelo Anthony accidently cause Rajon Rondo-Chris Paul brawl?". USA Today. October 23, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  25. Wojnarowski, Adrian (October 21, 2018). "Video appears to show Rajon Rondo spitting at Chris Paul". ESPN. Retrieved October 12, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  26. MacKay, David (October 21, 2018). "Close-up video shows Rajon Rondo spit in Chris Paul's face". RocketsWire, USA Today Sports. Retrieved October 12, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  27. 27.0 27.1 Harris, Beth (October 21, 2018). "NBA suspends Ingram, Rondo, Paul in Lakers-Rockets dustup". The Associated Press. Retrieved October 11, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Wojnarowski, Adrian (October 21, 2018). "Brandon Ingram out 4 games, Rajon Rondo 3 and Chris Paul 2". ESPN. Retrieved October 11, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  29. Peter, Josh (October 21, 2018). "Carmelo Anthony says Rajon Rondo spit in Chris Paul's face, igniting Lakers-Rockets brawl". USA Today. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Spears, Marc J. (October 22, 2018). "Were Lakers-Rockets suspensions long enough to deter future fighting in NBA?". The Undefeated. Retrieved October 11, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  31. "Lakers' Ingram grateful 4-game suspension wasn't harsher". The Associated Press. October 22, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2019. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)


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