The NBA on Sunday suspended Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram four games, Lakers guard Rajon Rondo three games and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul two games without pay for their roles in an on-court altercation that resulted in punches thrown in Saturday’s game, a person with knowledge of the suspensions told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak until the announcement was made official by the league.
The suspensions begin immediately, and Paul will miss Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers play San Antonio on Monday.
In its announcement of the suspensions, Ingram was suspended for “aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden.”
The league also confirmed that Rondo spit in Paul’s face and was suspended for “instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at Paul.”
Paul was suspended for “poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.”
In a game that was getting more and more chippy by the minute, frustration boiled over after Ingram fouled Harden. After the whistle, Ingram shoved Harden, and Ingram received a technical foul from veteran referee Jason Phillips.
Ingram got in Phillips’ face — a no-no especially given the league has been emphasizing its “Respect for the Game” rules.
Los Angeles’ Lance Stephenson pulled Ingram away, and that’s when Paul and Rondo began jawing back and forth. What was said and what happened is not clear — did Rondo spit on Paul? — but Paul put his finger in Rondo’s face, and Rondo retaliated with punches. Paul also threw a punch, and Ingram rejoined the fracas and threw a punch.
The incident occurred late in the fourth quarter at Staples Center during a stoppage in play. All three players were ejected from the game, which the Rockets went on to win, 124-115, spoiling LeBron James’ home debut.
In recent years, the league has suspended players either one or two games for throwing a punch, but the nature of Saturday’s incident may rise above the standard suspension.
In 2006, several players from Denver and New York received lengthy suspensions for their actions: Denver’s Carmelo Anthony (15 games), New York’s Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith (10 games), New York’s Mardy Collins (six games) and New York’s Jared Jeffries (four games).
Paul and some members of the Rockets claimed that Rondo spat at Paul, which caused the altercation.
“That’s unacceptable,” Anthony, now on the Rockets, said. “You don’t do that. You don’t do that, to nobody. In sports, on the streets, that’s blatant disrespectful right there.”
James, a close friend of Paul, pulled the Rockets star out of the scuffle, and after the game, said he “didn’t see anything.”
The Lakers fell to 0-2 on the season with the loss and have a tough schedule coming up, with San Antonio (twice), Denver and Minnesota making up four of their next five games. The Rockets, meanwhile, are now 1-1 and play the Clippers on Sunday night, Utah on Wednesday and the Clippers again on Friday.