Over the weekend, the NBA announced the punishments for those involved in an altercation between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. For L.A., they’ll be without Rajon Rondo for the next three games, and without Ingram for the next four.
Monday afternoon, the theme after practice was one of resolve, as the Lakers will have to make an already iffy rotation work without two key pieces for the next few games.
Both Ingram and Rondo addressed their roles in the fights, and there was a noticeable difference in their tones. See if you can spot the difference.
“It’s my full responsibility,” Ingram told reporters. “I’m the one that caused the action and I take full responsibility for every action that I did 100 percent. I was wrong for my teammates but I also stepped up for my teammates and that’s what I’m going to do ten times out of ten.”
Ingram was visibly contrite as he said that, it should be pointed out. Rondo, on the other hand, was borderline combative as he gave his two cents on the fight and his resulting suspension.
“Best for me not to talk about the situation,” Rondo said. “It is what it is. Obviously I have three games and I look forward to getting back for my team this weekend.
“Everyone knows who I am on my team, and I think they still respect me for what I do and what I bring to this team.”
Many who watched Saturday night’s excitement would probably be surprised at the suspensions handed down. As it turns out, even Ingram thought the NBA would be harsher.
“It was better than we expected,” Ingram said. “I thought it would be more than that.”
If we’re being completely honest, we’d all probably agree with Ingram here. He started the entire fracas, got in a referee’s face and, as if that wasn’t enough, escalated the fight between Rondo and Paul by running back to get in a few punches of his own. That he only got four games is fairly incredible.
As fortunate as Ingram or fans might feel about the length of his punishment, the league’s decisions are now behind the Lakers, who have to focus immediately on the impending stretch of games, starting with Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Next man up, let’s go,” Luke Walton said. “We’re going to need guys that haven’t been playing to step in and be ready and confident, and I believe they will be.”
LeBron James agrees with Walton’s assessment.
“Everybody,” he said, when asked who needs to step up. “Everybody has to do their job and whoever is going to get more minutes. They’re going to have to do their role and do their job.”
So, the Lakers find themselves currently at 0-2 with three of their next four games against teams with legitimate playoffs aspirations. While they would obviously prefer not to have anyone missing any time at this point of the season, they have to feel fairly fortunate given how things turned out.
Much of the burden will fall on Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, who will both be inserted into the starting lineup for Monday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. From there, increased responsibilities will trickle down across the roster. How everyone handles their new workload will go a long way in deciding how the Lakers will fare over the course of Ingram and Rondo’s suspensions.
And Saturday night’s excitement may not have led to injuries, but it didn’t come without victims, unfortunately. The famous friendship between James and Chris Paul is no more, it would appear*.
“Nah... We’re not friends anymore,” James joked.
*James and Paul — who are the Godparents of each others’ children — are obviously still friends.