Frustration that initially began with Brandon Ingram and James Harden broiled over between Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul as they exchanged words and punches, leading to a brawl that marred a home opener for the Los Angeles Lakers.
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After Ingram shoved Harden and was confrontational with a referee, he was removed from the situation by Lance Stephenson. Whether intentional or by accident saliva/spit from Rondo hit Paul in the face, who in turn put his finger in Rondo’s eye.
The two then threw punches, and Ingram came flying back into the picture with a haymaker of his own. All three players were suspended by the NBA, with Ingram receiving four games, Rond for three, and Paul a two-game suspension.
Speaking for the first time since the incident, Rondo declined to elaborate on the situation and is simply focused on serving his ban, via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group:
“Listen, it’s best for me not to talk about the situation. It is what it is. You guys see I have three games. I look forward to getting back and helping my team on this weekend.”
There’s a long history of tension between Rondo and Paul, which is presumed to have contributed to their latest dustup.
Meanwhile, for the Lakers, while they will be without two key members of their lineup, the suspensions weren’t as severe as many expected. With Ingram and Rondo out this week, Lakers head coach Luke Walton announced Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball will be inserted into the lineup.
Ball has played under a minutes restriction since returning from offseason knee surgery, and is confident in both his health and ability to carry a larger load while Rondo is out.