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When it came to the LeBron James’ home debut as a member of his new team, well, it’s safe to say the Lakers lost both the battle and the war.
James and the Lakers fell to 0-2 after dropping a 124-115 decision to James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. The outcome almost seemed beside the point in a game that featured a scrum centered on point guards Rajon Rondo of the Lakers and Chris Paul of the Rockets, and the mystery of The Spit.
According to Paul and the Rockets, Rondo spit in Paul’s face, prompting Paul to poke Rondo, prompting Rondo to paunch Paul, prompting Paul to respond.
According to Rondo and the Lakers, no spit flew.
And according to James, who pulled Paul away from the fracas, there’s nothing to see here and there’s no reason to talk about it.
“I didn’t see anything,” James told reporters. “Coach (Luke Walton) said what he had to say. We’ll come in tomorrow and get better.”
James finished with 24 points on 9-of-22 shooting and while he wanted to avoided talking about the malice at the Staples Center basketball palace, he did discuss the Lakers’ latest loss.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get to the Rockets, to get to a lot of teams in the Western Conference,” James said, before exiting the arena in a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap. “They’ve just been together for so long. We’ll learn from our mistakes and get better.”
Earlier James had said, “I can promise to our fans we’re not the team tonight that we’re going to be in January, February.”
The Lakers again were miserable from the perimeter, just as they were in the opening loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Against the Rockets, they finished 8-of-32 behind the arc.
On the season, James is 1-of-11 shooting on threes, Kyle Kuzma is 1-of-9.
Anyway, while the basketball is what matters, most fans, reporters and players were talking about the fight and the suspensions that surely await.
“You don’t do that to nobody — in sports, on the street,” Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony (seven points) said of Rondo’s alleged spit. “That’s blatant disrespect. That’s unacceptable. … You don’t even see that in the streets, man.”