It wasn’t the Malice at the Palace. Still, on Sunday the Los Angeles Lakers and the Detroit Pistons had an on-court scuffle with more drama than a soap opera.
While fighting for position for a rebound during a foul shot, LeBron James gave a kingly elbow to the face to Isaiah Stewart. The strike led to a scuffle that had to be broken up by members of both teams as Stewart saw red — literally — and could not be consoled.
James drew blood as Stewart’s face began leaking as he fought teammates, Pistons staff, and more to avenge James’ infraction. Both James and Stewart were ejected from the game.
Initially, Stewart was signaled to be at fault for a loose ball foul on the play. However, James was assessed a flagrant foul two before his ejection.
The incident was rare for James, who has only had one other ejection in his 19-year career in the NBA. The first ejection occurred against the Miami Heat on Nov. 28, 2017.
Lakers playign dirty cause they are getting their asses scraped every night..I say they shoulda let that man go and lets see whats what …
— LA MAQUINA DE SOMBRAS (@FANalyst1) November 22, 2021
In addition, Stewart was assessed for two technical fouls and then was also ejected. According to referee crew chief Scott Foster, the two techs came for “multiple unsportsmanlike acts during the altercation.”
There was 9:18 remaining in the third quarter when the incident occurred, and the Lakers were behind 79-67. The Lakers later were down by 15 points in the fourth quarter.
However, they rallied for a comeback, eventually winning 121-116 over the Pistons in Detroit. The win broke a three-game losing streak.
— Knee Circles Podcast (@KneeCircles) November 22, 2021
There were more casualties from the incident.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, a seemingly innocent bystander, received a technical foul. He didn’t know until after the game.
Foster later explained that the officials ruled Westbrook as “an escalator and not a peace maker” as the reason for the technical.
Westbrook did not hide his surprise at the issuance of a foul.
“I got a tech? Oh, wow. Why’d I get a tech? I didn’t know I had a tech. Wow. That’s interesting,” Westbrook after the game. “Well, you know, that’s just being Russell, I guess. When you’re Russell Westbrook, they just try to do anything, but whatever. I don’t know what I did, but whatever, they had to put it on somebody.”
Davis Leads The Way
Anthony Davis had the high hand, scoring 30 points and ten rebounds for the Lakers.
“[Stewart] got cut above the eye. It wasn’t on purpose. We wasn’t gonna allow him to keep charging [James],” Davis said.
However, now the issue is the possibility of suspensions to follow. The infraction led to a significant on-court aberration and gameplay stoppage that went viral. With techs being thrown around for even non-aggressors like Russell Westbrook, the possibility is high.
Thus far, there has only been one suspension this season for an on-court incident. When Denver player Nikola Jokic pushed the Miami Heat’s Markieff Morris from behind, he was suspended for one game.
The Long Lakers Road
The Lakers improved to 9-9 with the win, while Detroit fell to 4-12 with the loss. The L.A. team continues a five-game road trip hoping to create the chemistry everyone is looking for from the “super team.”
With all the disappointment surrounding the team, James’ incident did not help the team’s cohesion.