The fallout from the fracas between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets at Staples Center on Saturday night was predictable: suspensions for Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul.
The three main participants were hit Sunday with suspensions of four, three and two games, respectively, league sources confirmed. They will begin being served by Ingram and Rondo on Monday, when the Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs, and by Paul on Sunday night when the Rockets return to the scene to face the Los Angeles Clippers.
While so much attention was paid over the past 24 hours to whether Rondo spit on Paul, initiating the two of them taking swings at one another, Ingram was always expected to get — and eventually received — the stiffest punishment because his shove of James Harden started the dust-up and because he came flying in at the end and landed a punch on Paul.
Rondo, meanwhile, appears to have been given an extra game for escalating his spat with Paul to the level where punches were thrown. The two have a fair amount of ugly history between them.
The Rockets were up by a point on the Lakers when Ingram pushed Harden in the back. Ingram was called for a technical by referee Jason Phillips after Ingram yelled at the ref and Lance Stephenson pulled him away. That’s when the main event began. Rondo and Paul started exchanging words, with Paul reaching out to poke Rondo. Rondo responded with a punch and Paul let fly with a punch. Ingram ran in and James pulled Paul away. Ingram, Rondo and Paul were ejected.
None of the three was talking afterward, but Paul’s teammates claimed that Rondo spat in his face. “That’s unacceptable,” Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony said (via the Los Angeles Times). “You don’t do that to nobody. Not in sports, in the streets, that’s blatant disrespect. That’s unacceptable.” In a delicious side note, Internet sleuths had, by midday, broken down the video and decided that perhaps Anthony himself (a teammate of Paul’s) was the spitter.
Lakers players disputed that and reported that the team had reviewed video and saw no spit, either accidental or deliberate. “I didn’t see that,” Lonzo Ball said. “I saw Chris Paul touch his face then go from there.”
Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni disputed that, saying, “Some spit was thrown.” Video apparently showed Paul wiping his face, although the origin of the loogie was not clear.
The following video appears to be the most concrete evidence of Rondo spitting. Just look at the zoom in!
And remember, we’re just days into the NBA season.
(P. S. The Rockets won the game.)
(And a lot of people watched.)
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