Lakers Notes: Vanderbilt, Davis, Whitmore, LeBron

Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt was ejected in the first half of the team’s Monday loss to Houston after some back and forth with Rockets forward Dillon Brooks. Vanderbilt earned his first technical foul for shoving Brooks in the chest, then picked up another technical just seconds later for jabbing a finger into the back of Brooks’ head (Twitter video link via Bleacher Report).

After the game, Vanderbilt’s teammates defended his actions, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who notes that Brooks pushed the Lakers forward in the back as he was going airborne for a dunk a moment earlier (video link). A Lakers player also told McMenamin that Brooks called Vanderbilt a “p—y” during the exchange leading up to the ejection.

“He’s going for a wide-open dunk and (Brooks) just pushed him in the back,” Anthony Davis said. “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 received a flagrant 1 foul later in the game for hitting LeBron James in the face as he went over his back on a rebound attempt (video link). Lakers head coach Darvin Ham suggested to reporters in his postgame media session that either that play or the earlier push on Vanderbilt could’ve warranted an ejection for the Rockets forward.

“Being competitive is one thing,” Ham said. “But … putting players at risk of injury with certain plays — I just watched it again 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. So maybe Dillon Brooks shouldn’t have been in the game, either.”

Ham added that “my hat’s off to Vando” for how he responded to Brooks’ physical play.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Anthony Davis has been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest vs. Atlanta, the second game of a back-to-back set for the Lakers (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times). According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and left hip spasm) said he felt “a little sore” on Monday and “couldn’t move how I usually move,” so he’ll get a night off.
  • Cam Whitmore‘s performance on Monday (20 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes) was a tough pill to swallow for the Lakers, who could’ve drafted the 19-year-old last June. Los Angeles used the No. 17 overall pick on Jalen Hood-Schifino, while Whitmore fell to the Rockets at No. 20. “The kid is going to be special, man,” Ham said of Whitmore before the game, per Buha. Ham also noted that the Lakers had a pre-draft workout with the former Villanova standout and referred to him as “another bright, young superstar that’s going to be in our league for a long time.”
  • Given LeBron James‘ age and the Lakers’ up-and-down play this season, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer posits that the two sides are facing a crossroads and explores what might be next for the franchise and for one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players.
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