Lakers News: Anthony Davis & Darvin Ham Defend Jarred Vanderbilt For Altercation With Dillon Brooks
Jarred Vanderbilt, Dillon Brooks, Lakers
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt was ejected from Monday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets for a pair of consecutive technical fouls as he engaged in an altercation with Dillon Brooks. Vanderbilt was responding to an earlier hard foul by Brooks, when he pushed Vanderbilt while the Lakers forward rose up for a dunk. The situation elicited responses from several parties, including head coach Darvin Ham and star Anthony Davis.

Usually in situations like these, players and coaches warn one another about staying cool and not retaliating against instigators like Brooks. In fact, the NBA is far quicker to punish retaliations than they are to punish instigators, which is why players like Brooks can get away with so much. But given L.A.’s history with Brooks and the hard foul earlier in the second quarter, the Lakers took a different approach.

Davis kicked off the discussion by defending Vanderbilt wholeheartedly, criticizing Brooks for the foul and for going beyond sportsmanship on a regular basis, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“He was going for a wide open dunk and [Brooks] just pushed him in the back. It’s not a safe play, guys get hurt like that. You got to know the type of player [Brooks] is. They just keep let it go on and he just kind of provoked it. He talks and says whatever he wants to refs and players, but at the end of the day, we’re men. No man is gonna talk to another man the way he was talking to Vando. So Vando did what he had to do.”

In Davis’ mind, the only player who should have been ejected on Monday night was Brooks, who committed two hard fouls. One against Vanderbilt and another against LeBron James:

“Yeah, both. You can take a hard foul that’s a basketball play, but you’re not just gonna take someone blatantly pushing you in the back when they have no control of their body in the air. He should have gotten ejected for that. And then the blatant, obviously you know that him and Bron have their whatever, but from what I saw it was just a blatant hit on LeBron to the face. The refs saw it differently, it is what it is.”

Ham felt similarly to Davis when it comes to Brooks’ antics and Vanderbilt simply responding the way any person would to that type of provocation, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“It’s hard to control yourself. Being competitive is one thing, Dillon Brooks is one of the most competitive players that our league has, competed at a high level. But when you, whether it’s two shots or putting players at risk with injuries with certain plays, I just watched it again before I came in here, he pushes him on the back. A guy that’s in the air, airborne and defenseless. And then Bron’s play, Bron goes to the basket and it’s a double move with his arm. One arm trying to deflect the ball and it goes back, and then it goes across his face. So maybe Dillon Brooks should have been in the game either. It’s unfortunate, and I salute and take my hat off to Vando for taking up for his teammates. Taking up for himself and his team. So it is what it is.”

Vanderbilt was formally ejected after making physical contact with Brooks, but the Rockets guard continued to provoke and be a pest before and after the ejection was doled out, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

A moment later, Vanderbilt poked his finger on the side of Brooks’ head and was assessed another tech by crew chief Curtis Blair and ejected from the game. A Lakers player told ESPN that Brooks called Vanderbilt a “p—y” during the exchange.

Brooks and the Lakers have a well-known history from the team’s first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies last season. Brooks’ behavior and performance in that series caused the Grizzlies to not bring the free agent back under any circumstances.

But it’s clear that situation has not changed Brooks’ attitude in any way, and knowing the referees are trained to punish retaliation more than instigation gives him the freedom to play his style. Luckily, the Lakers are on each other’s side when it comes to an unfortunate ejection in a difficult loss.

Anthony Davis out against Hawks

Another unfortunate event to occur on Monday night was Davis aggravating an existing groin soreness that is putting his status for Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks in doubt. The Lakers have been very cautious when it comes to back-to-backs, and Davis has been ruled out.

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