Say what you will about the quality of play seen from this season’s Los Angeles Lakers, but they certainly stick up for each other. That’s what we found out on Friday night following a third-quarter melee with the visiting Milwaukee Bucks that resulted in several ejections and numerous technical fouls.
It all started when Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon went up to challenge a layup attempt by veteran Lakers guard Nick Young. Brogdon had his hand on the ball but his arm struck Young in the face. The usually happy-go-lucky Young responded by shoving Brogdon, at which point Bucks center Greg Monroe pushed Young near his neck.
Several Lakers and Bucks players ran into the fray, and Monroe appeared to slap or grab rookie Brandon Ingram in the face. A Bucks employee pushed Ingram, and Larry Nance Jr. and D’Angelo Russell both shoved Monroe before the fracas was broken up.
In the end, Monroe and Russell were ejected and Young received a technical foul, which was his second and drew an automatic ejection. After the game Lakers coach Luke Walton was fired up about the incident, and particularly took offense to how Russell and Ingram were treated, per Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group:
Luke Walton pretty upset about the scuffle. Main things: Russell's punishment = Monroe's. Bucks security put hands on Ingram pic.twitter.com/ELzsRKGF6H
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 18, 2017
First and foremost, Russell’s ejection certainly was a head-scratcher, as he played a relatively minor role in the ordeal. It was a bit troubling to see a Bucks staff member putting hands on Ingram, but the argument can be made that he was attempting to keep him out of the scrum even if he did use a bit more force to shove Ingram away than was necessary.
Perhaps more important is the fact that the young Lakers stepped up to protect each other in the heat of the moment. Russell, Ingram, Nance, and even Ivica Zubac were right there by Young’s side the moment he needed support, and while one can’t condone violent actions, the unifying effect can still be taken as a positive, and Walton’s strong comments are a continuation of that.
All involved from the Lakers side showed that they have each other’s backs when push literally comes to shove, and that means something in a team environment.
The Lakers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, and one would think that between now and then the NBA will have something to say about Walton’s remarks.