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Houston Rockets star Dillon Brooks appeared to play the role of the villain just right on Monday night as he scored 17 points in the team’s 135-119 win.
One interaction Brooks had with Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt was the talk of the postgame. Both Brooks and Vanderbilt were going after each other in the first half. After one exchange, Vanderbilt poked Brooks’ head with his finger. Vanderbilt received a second technical foul and was ejected.
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Jarred Vanderbilt of the Los Angeles Lakers is ejected following a flagrant foul against Dillon Brooks of the Rockets at Toyota Center on Jan. 29, 2024, in Houston. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
A Lakers player later told ESPN that Brooks called Vanderbilt a “p—-.”
“He’s going for a wide-open dunk and (Brooks) just pushed him in the back,” Lakers star Anthony Davis told the outlet. “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 toward another man the way he was talking to Vando. So, Vando did what he had to do.”
Brooks pinned the escalation on Vanderbilt.
Rockets forward Dillon Brooks looks up after a play against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center in Houston, Jan. 29, 2024. (Troy Taormina-USA Today Sports)
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“I feel like he may feel like I did a dirty play,” he 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.”
LeBron James avoided a Brooks question in the aftermath.
Brooks and James have feuded since he was on the Memphis Grizzlies in seasons past. Brooks was criticized for calling James old and that he wanted “poke bears” and following it up with a dud of a performance in the playoffs.
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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James looks to drive around Rockets forward Cam Whitmore, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
He told FOX Sports ahead of the first matchup of the 2023-24 season that he had no regrets over his trash talking.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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