Saturday’s showdown between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers had a true closeout-game feeling. Tensions were rising as L.A. was sealing Houston’s fate, resulting in an unexpected altercation between Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo’s brother.
William Rondo watched Game 5 from the stands but had to leave the arena in the fourth quarter after he began trash-talking Westbrook. With the Lakers leading 105-82 and 7:42 remaining in the game, he purportedly caught the Rockets guard’s attention by shouting and waving goodbye.
Westbrook bristled and turned, asking to repeat what he said. And shortly after, the 2017 MVP then watched the Rondo brother being escorted out of the arena by security. But Rajon has defended his sibling, telling ESPN’s Marc Spears he did not use profane words that would break the strict NBA rules for guests attending games in the bubble:
After the Lakers eliminated the Rockets from the NBA postseason in a 119-96 win in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Rajon Rondo told reporters his brother called Westbrook “trash” in the fourth quarter and waved goodbye when the Rockets star turned and asked what he said.
“He didn’t do anything crazy,” Rajon Rondo said. “He called the man ‘trash.’ Fans do what fans do. He’s my brother first. He didn’t do anything disrespectful.”
However, Westbrook insisted William Rondo crossed the line. “I don’t know, man. People at the game, you’re supposed to shut your mouth and watch the game,” he said following the game. “That’s the rules. Especially when you have families here.”
The clash was not the only incident of that eventful Saturday night. LeBron James had a few bitter words to say to Robert Covington, telling him and the other Rockets to “play ball” instead of protesting the referee’s calls.
Nuggets coach Mike Malone says ‘everybody’ wants all-L.A. conference finals
The Lakers entered Sunday waiting to learn their Western Conference Finals opponent as the Denver Nuggets managed to beat the L.A. Clippers in Game 5 and extend the series.
And as Denver’s head coach Mike Malone promised his Nuggets would fight until the end to stretch the series out even further, he admitted being aware the NBA community counting on a Battle for Los Angeles-themed conference finals.
“I know everybody is excited about the Lakers playing the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, but we’re hoping to have something to say about that,” Malone said.
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