Three players were ejected after an ugly fourth quarter brawl as LeBron James’ home debut for the Los Angeles Lakers ended in a 124-115 defeat against the Houston Rockets.
Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo were thrown out of the game with just over four minutes remaining, Paul appearing to gouge the eyes of his rival point guard and Rondo retaliating by throwing a punch.
Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, who had initiated the flashpoint by pushing James Harden in the chest after being fouled, was also ejected after coming into the brawl and starting to throw punches.
All three players are likely to face multiple-game suspensions.
The incident took the gloss off a celebrity-filled debut for James, who struggled with his shot at times but managed to hit nine of his 22 shots on the way to scoring 24 points.
He was outshone by Harden, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, and Paul who combined for 64 points in a game that the Rockets led the majority of.
Harden hit five three-pointers in his 36-point haul while Paul added 28 points before the unsightly incident with Rondo which appeared to affect the Lakers.
Harden hit a couple of technical free throws to hand Houston a cushion and he then drained a three-pointer to extend their advantage.
Kyle Kuzma attempted to respond for the Lakers but misses from James and Josh Hart condemned them to an 0-2 start and enabled Houston to claim their first win of the season.
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