THE bad blood between Western Conference rivals is well and truly real and was on full display at Staples Centre.
In the Los Angeles Lakers first home game of the 2018/19 NBA season, they looked to secure their first win by taking down the Houston Rockets.
The two sides have a long history of bitter feuds and in both teams’ second games of the season, they added the latest chapter.
As the game entered the fourth quarter and the scores remained close, the tension began to grow and then in an instant it all erupted.
Houston’s James Harden drove into the lane and drew a foul off of Lakers young forward Brandon Ingram, who wasn’t too impressed with the whistle.
As Harden walked back to the free throw line Ingram shoved the reigning MVP out of the way and kicked off proceedings.
Ingram’s teammate Lance Stephenson played peacemaker and took his heated teammate away from the scuffle, but it was point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul who took things to the next level.
As the two began to exchange words it was Paul who put his hand in the face of Rondo and pushed him away, only for Rondo to retaliate with a flurry of punches.
The Lakers and Rockets threw punches at Staples ? pic.twitter.com/YKWRkqHnXF
A left hook from Rondo landed clean before Paul got his own back with a right hand that looked like it hit flush on the face of Rondo.
Brandon Ingram seemingly wasn’t done and rushed back into throwing wild haymakers before the altercation was broken up by the officials and security.
Once it all calmed down and the teams were separated, the officials looked back over the footage before ejecting Ingram, Rondo and Paul.
Further suspensions and punishments are sure to follow after the ugly incident stole the limelight away from a huge western conference battle.
Whoa! This just blew up big time. Paul and Rondo throwing punched and it looked like Ingram came in throwing hands too. Rondo already back to the locker room.
OH MY GOODNESS. WE’VE GOT AN ACTUAL NBA FIGHT.
Oh my god. Chris Paul & Rondo PUNCHING on! ? #NBA
After roughly five minutes the game got back underway with the Rockets pulling away down the stretch to claim the 124-115.
The game marked LeBron James’ first official game at home as a member of the Lakers, the loss gets the team off to an 0-2 start.
James was as productive as ever as he finished the game with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
But the games best player was outdone by James Harden and Chris Paul who combined for 64 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists.
Two teams expected to partake when the NBA playoffs eventually roll around, the close contest was overshadowed by the ugly scenes.
Paul explained after the game the reason the fracas broke out was due to Rajon Rondo spitting in his face.
“Some spit was thrown,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said postgame.
Sitting in the stands was the NBA’s Executive VP of Basketball Operations, Kiki VanDeWeghe who will be responsible for handing out punishments from the brawl.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the investigation into the fight is underway and suspensions could be handed down as early as Monday.
“I honestly don’t know,” Harden said postgame, when asked what sparked the brawl. “It happened really, really quick.”
Chris Paul told our broadcast crew this all started because Rajon Rondo spit in his face. When the second replay cycles through you can see Chris wiping his face before he goes at Rondo. pic.twitter.com/2DxPjWdYCu
This wasn’t your typical NBA “Hooooooooooooooooooold me back!” situation. Guys actually went at each and threw hands. There are going to be mutiiple suspensions coming. Chris Paul. Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram are all getting some time off without pay for sure.
Rondo with quick left jab & Ingram came through with the Double Bank! Wow! NBA ain’t seen this in a while! ??♂️
Houston is the dirtiest team in the NBA. A team whose entire game plan is predicated on drawing cheap fouls is bad for basketball.
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