HomeSportsLakers call out Dillon Brooks, applaud Jarred Vanderbilt in ejection

Lakers call out Dillon Brooks, applaud Jarred Vanderbilt in ejection

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The Lakers found themselves in another tussle with Dillon Brooks in their blowout 135-119 loss to the Rockets on Monday night.

In the opening minutes of the second quarter, Jarred Vanderbilt was fouled by Brooks while going airborne for a dunk, landing awkwardly on the play. Two Lakers possessions later, Brooks tangled his arm with Vanderbilt as the two positioned themselves under the rim on an Austin Reaves bucket. Vanderbilt extended his arm to push Brooks, earning a technical. 

As the officials were communicating to the scorer’s table about Vanderbilt’s first technical foul, Brooks appeared to say something toward the Lakers forward that he took exception to, leading him to poke the Rockets’ wing in the back of the head.

Vanderbilt was assessed his second technical foul for the poke, leading to an ejection. But his Lakers teammates and coach defended his actions as one Los Angeles player reportedly told ESPN that Brooks called him a “p—-y.”

Lakers star Anthony Davis stood up for Vanderbilt, calling out Brooks. 

“He’s going for a wide-open dunk and [Brooks] just pushed him in the back,” Davis told reporters. “It’s not a safe play. Guys get hurt like that. And you got to know what type of player [Brooks] is. [The referees] kind of let that just keep going on and [Brooks] kind of provoked it. He talks and says whatever he wants to the refs, to players and at the end of the day, we’re men.

“No man is going to talk towards another man the way he was talking to Vando. So, Vando did what he had to do.”

Brooks wasn’t assessed a flagrant foul for his play on Vanderbilt’s dunk after a video review only determined it was just a common foul. However, he received a Flagrant 1 foul when he hit LeBron James in the face while trying to get a rebound from behind him during the fourth quarter. 

James didn’t want to talk about Brooks after the game, telling reporters “next question” when asked about the flagrant foul. But Lakers coach Darvin Ham was willing to stick up for James while also applauding Vanderbilt, saying, “my hat’s off to Vando.”

“Being competitive is one thing,” Ham said. “But … putting players at risk of injury with certain plays — I just watched it again [on video] before I came in here, [Brooks] pushes him in the back, a guy that’s in the air. Airborne, defenseless. Then Bron’s play, Bron goes to the basket and it’s a double move with his arms. One arm trying to deflect the ball and it goes back and then it goes across [James’] face.

“Maybe Dillon Brooks shouldn’t have been in the game, either.”

“You take a hard foul, it’s part of basketball,” Davis added. “But you’re just not going to blatantly push someone in their back when they have no control of their body in the air. I think he should have got ejected for that. And then … obviously you know that him and Bron have their whatever and from what I saw it was just a blatant hit on LeBron to the face.”

Brooks, though, felt the incident with Vanderbilt was escalated by the Lakers forward and not by him. 

“I feel like he felt like I did a dirty play,” Brooks said. “And when he feels that way he likes to bump. And it’s basketball, we bump and tussle and I feel like he took it a little too far.”

Brooks has embraced an antagonizing role in recent years, which came to a head when he was with the Grizzlies in their first-round playoff matchup against the Lakers last season. He notably trash-talked James during the series, calling him “old” and saying “I poke bears.” In the game after making those comments, Brooks received a Flagrant 2 foul for hitting James below the belt in the opening seconds of the second half in Game 3, triggering an automatic ejection.

The Lakers wound up winning that series in six games and it was reported in the days after the end of the series that the Grizzlies wouldn’t re-sign Brooks in free agency. Brooks signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Rockets over the offseason as Houston looked to reset its culture after being one of the worst teams in the league from 2000-03. 

Brooks, who’s scoring 13.9 points per game this season, believes he’s done a better job at controlling his emotions this season.

“Last year, I let it get too far,” Brooks said. “Now, I feel like I have a rein on it. It’s just bringing the energy from knowing that certain things that you do, you can take it too far. And play within the lines.”

The Rockets improved to 22-24 with the win, putting them just a game back for the final spot in the play-in tournament and two wins behind the Lakers. 

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