In each of the past two games with the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves at odds with Jamal Murray. The second-year guard drew the ire of fans at Staples Center on Tuesday night, but it was Nikola Jokic who sparred with the Lakers, specifically Julius Randle.
The two were locked up on a shot attempt, which resulted in Randle shedding Jokic. He got back on his feet and approached Randle, with the two exchanging words before they were separated with 21 seconds left in the Lakers’ 112-103 win.
Randle and Jokic were assessed technical fouls and the game finished without further incident. “He was coming down flailing, flopping his arms and stuff. That’s fine, that’s his game,” Randle said postgame. “But when you hook my arm and try to pull my shoulder out of place, I don’t like that.”
Both dynamic big men play with a certain physicality that can agitate an opponent, and they’d been locked up and traded bumps throughout the game.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton spent the time leading up to Tuesday’s game imploring his team to not fall into a trap of making it about retribution against Murray. Walton didn’t see what led to the confrontation between Jokic and Randle, though he also wasn’t overly concerned.
“I didn’t think much of it other than I hoped none of our guys on the bench stepped on the court, because we’ve got a really good opponent [Wednesday],” Walton said. “We’re going to need everybody.”
As for the Lakers’ more traditional irritant, Randle has a certain affinity for Murray, a fellow University of Kentucky product. But that doesn’t earn him a pass. “I don’t talk to him much. I like the kid, to be honest,” Randle said.
“I just don’t — we’re not for the antics that he’s had the past couple of games. I like him. He’s a Kentucky guy, so I’m always going to have that relationship. But this is my team, and I’m not going to let the antics fly.”