Former Los Angeles Lakers players Dwight Howard and Danny Green celebrated with the Philadelphia 76ers a 109-101 victory over the reigning NBA champions on an eventful Thursday night. But the two veterans will likely have a different recollection of their Staples Center return due to the former’s clash with Montrezl Harrell.
The night started with a poignant moment. Howard and Green collected championship rings for their contribution to L.A’s title run last season. But competitive spirit quickly replaced friendly gestures as the 33-year-old sharpshooter kept hurting the Lakers throughout the night. He erupted for 28 points, his second-highest tally of the season, making eight 3-pointers.
Green tied the second-highest number of triples he sank in a single game over his 12-year NBA career, marking one of his most prolific performances ever.
Meanwhile, Howard came off the bench buzzing in the first quarter and scored six points in six minutes. However, the 35-year-old center’s zeal got him in trouble when he engaged in an altercation with Harrell with just over a minute left in the first period — resulting in a double technical foul.
The two big men kept riling each other up until the buzzer ended the first quarter. Howard then appeared to have intentionally bumped into Harrell while coming off the floor, which earned him his second technical and an ejection.
Harrell initially shrugged off the incident in a post-game interview. “I don’t even care to be real with you. I was playing basketball. Doc [Rivers] is an old coach of mine, so is Sam [Cassell]. When I’m talking to the coach and they feel like some of the things that you are doing aren’t basketball plays then it is what it is.”
But the 27-year-old forward swiftly changed the tone and offered a taste of his well-known dedication and fearlessness. “I’m not backing down from nobody. I don’t take that lightly,” he said. “I don’t take none of that disrespect. You are not going to push me around on the court and I just feel like he wanted to big-boy me … It don’t fly with me.
“It’s not in my blood and it’ll never be in my blood. I don’t care what nobody feels about it. I don’t care who don’t like me. It is what it is. That’s just what it is. That’s how I feel about that situation. That’s where it’s going to stay.”
Harrell explains third-quarter breakdown in loss to Sixers
The Lakers fought hard to come back from an 18-point deficit they started the fourth quarter with. However, the late push wasn’t enough to make up for the slump L.A. suffered after halftime.
The Sixers outscored the Lakers, 35-17, in the third benefiting from the six steals they registered in the period. Harrell gave credit to Philadelphia for stripping the ball off the Lakers’ hands which, he thinks, tipped the scales in their favor. “They’re real active on their hands and definitely got a lot of strips,” he said.
“I think that’s what it was. We were just trying to make the right play instead of just letting it develop. Trying to fit it into small spaces, small windows and they were coming up with a lot of strips. At the end of the day, I love how we fought.”
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