Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers get physical without fisticuffs


Let go! (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES – John Wall was getting ready to push the ball up the floor when he saw Drew Gooden on the ground, Nick Young towering over him and Jordan Hill shoving Marcin Gortat a few feet back before grabbing him. The final minutes of the Wizards’ 117-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers got a bit testy and Wall decided immediately that it would be in his best interest not to get involved.

“I’m like, ‘I’m holding this ball, and I’m staying out the way, I don’t want no technicals and I don’t want no ejections right now,’” said Wall, who has already earned about $17,000 worth of fines this for making inappropriate comments about officials and another technical.

While Wall was off to the side, Trevor Booker was seated on the bench with his feet propped up as the wild sequence unfolded. Booker probably had the most unique position of any player in the arena since Hill is his first cousin and Gortat is his teammate.

“I saw Marc and my cousin getting into it. I didn’t know what was going on,” Booker said afterward. “I think [Hill] was just trying to stand up for his teammate. I’m glad he didn’t throw any punches.”

Gortat recently said in an interview with ESPN.com that he wishes the NBA would allow players to settle their differences on the floor by NHL-style fighting matches, for about “15-20 seconds” without fear of substantial penalties.

Gooden and Young appeared to be headed toward a serious altercation when they were fighting for a rebound and their arms got tangled. After Gooden pulled down on Young and fell on backside, Young rushed toward Gooden and shoved him.

“He ended up falling. I ended up getting my adrenaline going and it was over after that,” said Young, who received a technical foul was allowed to stay in the game. “I felt like that was uncalled for right there.”

Gooden headed directly to the showers after getting ejected for a flagrant foul-penalty two and wasn’t around to discuss the situation in the locker room after the game. But when he saw Young shoving Gooden while Gooden sat on the floor, Gortat tried to play peacemaker by separating the duo.

“We’re known as Windermere’s Finest in Orlando. We live in the same neighborhood,” Gortat said of Gooden. “I had to protect my man. He was taking care of me since Day One I made it to this league.”

Gooden saved the Wizards for the second time in four games, with a fourth-quarter flurry that spared them losing three in a row. The Wizards (36-33) had let a 21-point second-half lead get whittled down to seven before Gooden scored nine points during a 15-7 run to start the fourth quarter. His tip-in gave the Wizards a 103-88 lead.

“He played, again, good for us,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He had to have probably six or seven rebounds in that fourth quarter.”

Gooden actually had eight rebounds and nine points in the period, but he was ejected for the first time since Dec. 26, 2011, when he clubbed Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson as Henderson attempted to make a layup. He has been ejected just four times in his career.

The dustup with Young had been building throughout the fourth quarter, with Gooden complaining to officials about not getting calls. Then, after Gortat blocked Jodie Meeks’s shot in the lane, Gooden grabbed the rebound but appeared to get hit in the face and lost the ball.

Frustrated, Gooden again tried to collect another rebound after Young missed a runner in lane but couldn’t gain control after colliding with Young. The two became got tied up and Young was in a vulnerable position as Gooden pulled away. Gooden could face further punishment from the league office if they determine that he didn’t something else that wasn’t caught by the officials on the court.

Young, the former Wizard, has been in other incidents this season with his hometown Lakers, including a situation in Phoenix in which he struck Suns guard Goran Dragic after absorbing a hard foul from former Maryland center Alex Len. After that game, Young called out his teammates for not having his back, so Hill’s rush to attack Gortat was probably prompted by those comments.

Gortat looked completely confused by Hill’s desire to go after him, especially since he was trying to prevent Gooden and Young from taking the altercation to a place where it didn’t have to go. Hill collected a technical foul and an ejection and the physical encounter had Bradley Beal laughing afterward.

“I seen Marc wrestling with Jordan Hill and so I ran over there to see what was going on and it was like they were hugging,” Beal said, cracking a smile. “I was like, ‘Aw man, this is getting out of hand and then refs started handing techs out.’ ”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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