Headlines floated into this game with it being the official Staples Center debut for LeBron James. That, however, is not what people will be talking about following this chaotic and wonderful game that was played Saturday night.
With just over four minutes remaining and the score tight at 109-108 in favor of Houston, Brandon Ingram committed a simple foul on James Harden. However, this foul would escalate rather quickly.
Ingram, a usually even-keeled quite player, would push Harden in the back and receive a technical. While Ingram was being dealt with the confrontational and jawing veterans Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo began jawing at one another.
That, in turn, escalated into a finger to the face from Paul to Rondo and then punches starting flying, first from Rondo and then Paul. Storming in swinging shortly after was Ingram. Again, normally a reserved player with an oftentimes dormant presence. All three would be ejected for the remainder of the game and one can imagine that suspensions will be handed down on top of that as well.
One can not speak to why Ingram retaliated the way he did but some of the tensions might have been brewing from a spot earlier in the fourth quarter with around nine minutes and forty-seven seconds remaining. Josh Hart would drive towards the basket on a fastbreak opportunity only to be met by a James Ennis clothesline. Ennis would pick up a flagrant-one foul.
— Brandon Robinson (@ScoopB) October 21, 2018
That or seeing Floyd Mayweather sideline inspired these players to square up physically against one another.
With as much attention the scrum will get from all media outlets over the next course of days and calendars will be marked when these two play each other next, the Staples Center fans were treated to a great game.
The marquee players showed up and performed to the level they were expected too. Harden would lead all scorers with 36 points and his running mate, Paul, would collect 28 of his own while shoveling out 10 assists as well.
LeBron was doing his thing with 24 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Lastly, the performance from Lonzo Ball must have lifted the spirits of all the Laker faithful out there as he connected on four of eight three-pointers attempted and finished with 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
At half-time, the Rockets would go into the locker room up four. At the beginning of the captivating and crucial fourth quarter, Los Angeles would claw to within one point. Fortunately for the Rockets, they had the experience and superiority over Los Angeles in terms of how to close out games, learning from their mistakes in the Western Conference championship last season.
These two teams do not play each other for a while, seeing their next match-up occurring on December 13th in Houston. There is no doubt that these two teams might look different come that time but the memory of how this game unfolded will be kept in the minds of the players, the coaches, and especially the fans.
It can be believed that Los Angeles is trying to show their teeth against the best that the Western Conference has to offer. The Lakers are trying to get where Houston is at now and it’s understandable as to why tempers were kicked up a notch.
With all the news about how Los Angeles wants to compete with Golden State, facing the Rockets is the first dragon to slay in their quest for Western Conference supremacy. A new rivalry just sparked possibly?
One thing that can be said is that although it was not a win for LeBron in his first official game at his new home court in the Staples Center, he did see the fire from some of his teammates on this roster. Proving that they share a passion for this game and are willing to not take things lying down anymore. This will be an instance where the maturity level will be measured thus setting a baseline for where the Lakers are at in the beginning of the season and look to build off of that.
Silver lining Lakers fans. Ingram seems fired up and ready to go this season. That energy and passion just has to be harnessed and controlled then unleashed at the right time resulting in baskets and wins.
And that does it. Your classic Western Conference game. Nothing out of the norm.