The Los Angeles Lakers’ clash with the San Antonio Spurs turned bloody on Saturday when Zach Collins elbowed Russell Westbrook in the third quarter, opening a big cut on the Lakers playmaker’s forehead.
Collins might have hit Westbrook inadvertently, but the referees ruled the play was reckless enough to eject the big man from the game. It also infuriated Westbrook, who quickly got up and wanted to confront Collins despite blood dripping down his face.
LeBron James stepped in, trying to calm down the 34-year-old guard and pulling him away from the Spurs center. He then grabbed a towel and pushed it against Westbrook’s forehead to stop the bleeding. After the game, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham praised James and Westbrook for handling the situation, saying they showed the togetherness Ham expects his players to embrace, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I mean, you’re talking about two first-ballot Hall-of-Fame players, man, that know how to play the game of basketball, understand when it’s played the right way. They know how to play it. [They are] highly competitive individuals both on and off the floor. And at the end of the day, again, those three key words: competitiveness, togetherness and accountability. That’s what togetherness looks like. Being there for your teammate. [Westbrook] takes a shot to the head — and you don’t want to escalate the situation. You want to try to calm him down. You got a guy with blood all over his face who is understandably upset. And just having Bron there, it shows a brotherhood. We need that type of image, that action, that belief in one another. We need that to represent us as a team and as a franchise.”
Westbrook returned to the game after a brief visit to the locker room, helping the Lakers claim a 143-138 win over the Spurs. The victory was L.A.’s fifth in the last six games with the Purple and Gold improving to 7-11 on the season.
Westbrook unsure why he received technical in altercation with Collins
Even though Westbrook was the victim in the incident involving Collins, his initial reaction after taking the Spurs center’s elbow to his face earned the Lakers guard a technical foul. The ruling came as a surprise considering the situation quickly de-escalated and no punches were thrown.
Westbrook himself was unsure why the referees called a technical foul on him. “I wasn’t sure why I got one but you know, I’ll check with the league and talk to them about it and we’ll figure out why that was,” he said on Saturday.
“Maybe because I probably hopped up or something. Not sure. (Laughing). Maybe I got up too fast or something? I don’t know. But I’m going to check and find out.”
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