Once the fists started flying late in the fourth quarter, LeBron James’ home debut with the Los Angeles Lakers was relegated to the undercard.
A wild multiplayer fight that included the normally mild-mannered Chris Paul and Brandon Ingram stole part of the spotlight shining on LeBron’s official landing on the West Coast.
The Houston Rockets stole the rest with a gritty victory.
James scored 24 points, but Paul, Ingram and Rajon Rondo all were ejected after trading blows late in the Rockets’ 124-115 win Saturday night.
Slow-mo of Rondo duffing Chris Paul (via @i) pic.twitter.com/WmtL2AwudO
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) October 21, 2018
Before the late drama overshadowed everything, James got several big ovations from a tremendously lively sellout crowd in his first home game since joining the Lakers as a free agent.
WHERE WAS STATE FARM ?!
— Crippy Teigen (@vincestaples) October 21, 2018
“The atmosphere was great,” James said. “The fans were extremely excited. We gave them everything that we could. Wish we could have gave them more with this win, but it was very electric.”
But perhaps that energy — and a flagrant foul by Houston’s James Ennis III against Josh Hart earlier in the fourth quarter — contributed to the shocking fight that broke out with 4:13 to play.
😂 Floyd Mayweather enjoying his courtside seats at the CP3 vs Rondo fight!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 21, 2018
The Rockets were clinging to a 109-108 lead when Ingram was called for a foul while trying to defend an aggressive drive by James Harden, who finished with 36 points.
Furious with the call, Ingram shoved Harden and then confronted referee Jason Phillips after getting a technical foul.
In the ensuing group argument, Paul stuck a finger into the face of Rondo, who responded by punching his fellow point guard. Ingram then threw punches in the melee. James attempted to break up the fight by grabbing Paul, his friend.
Paul claimed Rondo caused their fight by spitting on him.
“Unacceptable,” Houston’s Carmelo Anthony said. “We all know what happened. Ain’t no need to keep going back and forth about that. What happened was unacceptable. It shouldn’t have happened.”
Rondo’s teammates said they didn’t know whether Paul’s claim was accurate. Lakers coach Luke Walton said his players were playing with extra aggravation after Ennis clotheslined Hart on a flagrant foul 4 ½ minutes earlier.
“I felt like the other team was trying to provoke us, and we fell for it,” said the Lakers’ Lance Stephenson, another peacemaker in the brawl.
When tempers cooled after a nearly 10-minute break, Houston finished the game on a 15-8 run. Harden hit a key 3-pointer with 1:12 left to propel the Rockets to their first win of the season.
Rondo with the left 👀 pic.twitter.com/1IN0v7InlF
— Vincent Samperio (@VinceSamperio) October 21, 2018
“We played amazing tonight, and I feel like the fight probably put us back,” said JaVale McGee, who had 16 points and six rebounds in his own Lakers home debut. “If there wasn’t the fight, we probably would have won that game.”
Paul had 28 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds before getting tossed. Clint Capela had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Anthony scored seven points off the bench as Houston rebounded from an embarrassing season-opening loss to New Orleans.
Rondo had 13 points and 10 assists before getting thrown out. LeBron also had five rebounds and five assists, but he went 1 for 8 in the fourth quarter, missing all three of his 3-point attempts.
“Yeah, James was James. That’s what he does,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought it was a great game. It had some intensity and quickness, and how fast it was.”
Rockets: Harden got a technical foul in the second quarter when he halfheartedly shoved Stephenson, who sold it impressively. … Houston hasn’t lost a season series with the Lakers since 2010-11. … Gerald Green scored 13 points.
Lakers: Ingram had 12 points before his ejection. … Rookie C Moe Wagner wasn’t ready for his home debut while he recovers from a bruised left knee. … Lonzo Ball showed off his retooled jumper with four 3-pointers and 14 points.
The fight could leave with both teams without key rotation players due to suspension. NBA fights rarely get serious enough for the punches thrown by the principals in this brouhaha, and league discipline executive Kiki VanDeWeghe was actually in attendance.
The Rockets are staying in LA to play the Clippers on Sunday night, and Houston coach Mike D’Antoni laughed at the possibility of a suspension for CP3.
“I don’t know, I might rest him (on a) back-to-back,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see what the NBA says.”
The Lakers dropped to 0-2 after James’ West Coast chapter formally began Thursday with a 128-119 road loss to the Trail Blazers. James scored 26 points in Portland, but the Lakers’ team vibe could take many weeks to solidify before they can compete regularly with veteran playoff-contending rosters.
The Rockets are a few months removed from reaching Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, and they’ve added Anthony to their attack.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to the Rockets, to get to a lot of teams in the Western Conference,” James said. “They’ve just been together for so long. We’ll learn from our mistakes and get better.”
Stephen Curry to Return to the Lineup on Sunday Against the Washington Wizards
The Golden State Warriors season essentially ended on October 30th, when an awkward fall resulted in a broken hand for Stephen Curry.
Curry has since been sidelined for four months and in his absence, the Warriors have gone 11-43 and sit with the wowarst record in the NBA.
Luckily things are about to get a lot better for Warriors fans, as Curry is set to return to lineup for Golden State on Sunday.
Adding a six-time All-Star, three-time champion and two-time MVP back into the starting lineup is sure to help the Warriors win a few more games down the stretch.
In the four games Curry played this year he shot 24% from three-point range, which is something he will look to clean up over the final games of this season.
Golden State has their eyes toward the future, looking to land a top lottery pick to their roster and incumbent Big Three of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The Warriors have 25 games left this season and are four games behind the closest team for the worst record in the NBA.
As long as Golden State finishes with one of the three worst records in the NBA, they will have the best possible odds of winning the lottery. So Curry’s arrival should not hurt their position in that regard.
Instead Curry will bring some excitement to an ailing fan base, while building some chemistry with Andrew Wiggins and the other young Warriors that may be on the roster next season.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons Out Indefinitely with Back Injury
The Philadelphia 76ers were dealt a big blow on Saturday when Ben Simmons left their game against the Milwaukee Bucks with a back injury.
Since the injury, Simmons has been resting but it was clear that the injury was significant enough that he would miss a few games at least.
Now the injury has been diagnosed as nerve impingement in his lower back, sidelining him for at least two weeks.
If Simmons is meeting with the doctors in two weeks, that will keep him out of the Sixers lineup until March 10th at least. During that time Philadelphia will play at least six games without him.
While everyone is different, back injuries are always difficult to predict timelines for and there is a great chance that Simmons will miss more than two weeks. He will likely need to rehab after being cleared by the doctors.
The Sixers have struggled with chemistry and continuity all year and were hoping to build some over the final stretch of the season. Now they are just hoping to get Simmons 100% for the playoffs.
Philadelphia’s final 24 games of the season are very important to their success in the playoffs, as they are currently in a dog fight in the standings with five teams jockeying for playoff positioning.
The Milwaukee Bucks have really pulled away from the pack as the East’s top team, with the Toronto Raptors following a similar path behind them for the two-seed.
The Sixers currently sit 14 games behind the Bucks, six behind Toronto and are four games behind the Boston Celtics.
Now that Simmons is hurt, Philadelphia really should have their eyes set on the Miami Heat, with a single loss separating the two teams.
The Indiana Pacers need not be forgotten in this race, as they sit two games behind Philadelphia in the standings.
Still, it appears that Philadelphia and Miami are on a collision course for a four-five matchup in the first round of the playoffs. Home court will be a critical advantage to secure.
The Sixers have the best home record in the NBA at 27-2. Meanwhile the Heat are not too far behind with a 23-3 record in Miami.
Phialdelphia also has the worst road record of any playoff team at 9-20, so they desperately need to find a way to win that advantage over the final stretch of the season.
Losing Ben Simmons for a significant period of time could very well cost the Sixers the playoff position they need to make a deep run in the East.
Upcoming Summer Olympics in Jeopardy of Being Cancelled Due to Coronavirus
Basketball fans and sports fans alike look forward to the Summer Olympics every four years, as a celebration of the best athletes around the world.
This year’s festivities are scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan, although there is a chance that the games don’t get played at all.
Due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, an IOC member has indicated that the Olympics may be heading towards a cancellation.
The virus which first began to spread around Asia has already infected more 80,000 people around the world, with no imminent cure or vaccine being in place at this time.
If this remains a cause for concern for officials, the anticipated Olympics may need to be cancelled to prevent further spread of the virus.
There is still time to make this decision, with the games being schedule to begin on July 24th. But if the outbreak is not contained in the coming months, we could see the first cancellation of an Olympics in over 75 years.
The Olympics have been cancelled three times since their inception in 1896. This would be the first peacetime cancellation of the games however.
In 1916 the games were cancelled because of World War I. World War II prevented the 1940 and 1944 games from being played.
Hopefully health officials can contain the coronavirus and we don’t have an unprecedented cancellation of the Olympics this summer.
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