The Lakers unraveled in the worst of ways Friday night in a 115-105 loss to Phoenix, the ugliest moment happening when teammates Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard got into a physical altercation on the bench in the second quarter.
There also was Lakers coach Frank Vogel running onto the court because no foul was called and getting hit with a technical foul in the second quarter. Then there was Rajon Rondo getting into an argument with a court-side fan whom Lakers security eventually ejected from the game in the third quarter. Rondo pointed his finger at the fan in a gun gesture, twice, and the fan slapped his hand away.
And there was the butt-kicking the Lakers endured in the third quarter when the Suns smacked them upside the head in building a 32-point lead before a late L.A. rally made the final score respectable.
The takeaway from the Lakers dropping to 0-2 is what they had to say about the emotionally charged night:
“We squashed it right then and there. We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor,” Howard said. “We’re both very passionate about winning. We didn’t want to lose this game. So, we just passionate. We got it out the way. We grown men, things happen. But we are gonna squash this little issue between me and him, and that’s my brother, that’s my teammate. And that’s what I told him. ‘I’m gonna always be here for you, no matter what. I’ll always fight for you, do whatever I can to help this team win.’ He said the same thing. We’re good. We squashed it. There’s no need to try to make it bigger than something else.”
The incident occurred when Davis followed Howard off the court during a timeout while exchanging words, and when Howard got to the bench and stood up, Davis puts his hands on Howard’s forearm. Howard stumbled back toward the bench and then was held back by his teammates, as was Davis.
Davis said after the game that all was forgiven.
“It was just a pick-and-roll scheme. That was it,” Davis said. “Me and him are trying to figure … not just me and him, but all of us are trying to figure it out on the defensive end. Something happened. I was saying one thing, he was saying another on the scheme and one thing led to another. And like I said, we talked about it and we left it in the locker room at halftime.”
Said LeBron James: “If you don’t get mad at certain things on the floor that you feel like you should have done better, then what are you here for? So, we like that as a ball club. We like the adversity. I like the adversity, and I like it even more when two men on the team can come together and talk about it and move on. That’s what real men do. They don’t let it linger. They say what you got to say and you talk about it and you move on. And that’s what they did tonight.”
Vogel said there is nothing related among the three incidents.
“I think they’re three isolated situations,” he said. “The fan slapped Rondo’s hand. That has nothing to do with our composure. Dwight and AD had a miscue on a coverage, and they talked it out. But, when you’re getting your ass kicked, sometimes those conversations get heated. Those guys love each other. They talked it out. And that’s going to happen from time to time. I’d rather our guys care than not care. I got a tech because, well, the reasons are obvious why I got the tech. Just leave it at that.”
Howard was the voice of reason for the group.
“Even coach, he said to us he got to get better and control his emotions,” Howard said. “He got a technical foul. He’s running on the floor. So, we all understand that we got to stay positive, but we also got to stay humbled. Stay humbled and stay hungry. We’re going to get what we need to get out of this season, but we got to stay humbled. We got to stay positive and things are going to happen in our favor.”