Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis & Dwight Howard altercation amid Lakers’ ugly loss to Suns

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“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “… We’re grown men. Things happen.”

LA Lakers: Anthony Davis & Dwight Howard

Los Angeles Lakers team-mates Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard were involved in a sideline row during Friday’s 115-105 defeat by Phoenix Suns.

Davis and Howard squared up to each other on the bench during a timeout and had to be separated by team-mates in the first half.

“We squashed it right then and there,” said Howard about the altercation.

“We’re both passionate about winning and didn’t want to lose. But we’re grown men, we got it out the way.”

The minutes of evidence are minimal and the sample sizes are small. But … they’re getting larger by the game.

It’s been two games. The Lakers aren’t well. And after a month of preaching patience, the signs that it’s wearing thin are the most defining trait of a team with four of the NBA’s top 75 players ever on its roster.

LA Lakers

Players fighting with each other, another jawing with a fan, a coach running onto the court in a moment of rage and bad basketball clouding any rays of positivity defined a 115-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The ugliest scene happened with just more than three minutes left in the first half, with Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis getting into a physical altercation on the bench during a timeout.

“It’s over with,” Davis said, adding the disagreement was over a pick-and-roll coverage.

During the timeout, an upset Howard bounced around the perimeter. He and Davis got face to face and had an animated conversation before the timeout ended.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “… We’re grown men. Things happen.”

The Suns scored eight of the next 11 points to cap a disastrous second quarter in which Phoenix outscored L.A. 34-18.

“In my 42 years of being associated with the Lakers organization, I’ve never seen something like that smh,” Lakers great Magic Johnson tweeted after the loss.

Midway through the second quarter of the Lakers’ 115-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday night, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard walked back to the bench for a timeout. But what started out as a routine moment in a to-that-point normal game quickly turned ugly in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN.

As Davis walked over to exchange words with Howard over a disagreement on a pick-and-roll coverage, Howard began to stand up, at which point Davis put his hand into Howard’s chest, causing the veteran center to tumble backwards into the team’s bench as their teammates tried to separate the two seven-footers.

But while video of that moment has already filled your social media feeds, and will surely inspire a nearly endless well of hot takes while leading every sports show for at least the next 24 hours, Davis and Howard both insisted after the game that it was not a big deal.

“We squashed it right then and there. We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor,” Howard said. “We’re grown men. Things happen. But we already talked. We squashed it. There is no issue between me and him and that’s my brother. That’s my teammate and that’s what I told him. I said ‘I’m gonna always be here for you no matter what, I’m gonna always fight for you, and I’m gonna always do whatever I can to help this team win.’ And he said the same thing.

“So we’re good, we squashed it. There’s no need to try to make it a bigger issue or something else.”

Davis was less willing to talk about the moment than Howard was, but he did say “it’s over with” when questioned about the exchange.

“Two guys who are very competitive and want to win games,” Davis said of what the moment indicated.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel batted away questions from the local media about how he handled the issue, repeatedly insisting that conversations and actions would remain behind closed doors and cutting things off with “too much” when faced with what he seemingly felt was an unfairly phrased query about teammates “putting hands on each other,” but he felt similarly to Davis.

“Its says we want to be 2-0 and we’re not. That’s all it says,” Vogel said, insisting that Howard being benched in the second half was not a disciplinary action. “These guys are some of the greatest players to ever play because of their competitive spirit. So when you don’t win, there’s going to be frustration. That’s what makes them great.”

Howard spoke most at length about the issue, and came out to speak to the media before anyone else, a rarity for a player that is often the last to leave the locker room after games. He wanted to make sure the moment wasn’t twisted into more than it was, or spun as some larger commentary on his character or reputation as a teammate.

“We have no issues with each other. Nobody should try to turn this into an issue between me (and AD), or say that I’m trying to cause problems for the team because I’m not,” Howard said. “Everybody on the team knows what type of energy I bring every single night, regardless of if I’m on the bench or on the court, I’m the same exact person. I’m never going to change. I’ll always be up. I’ll always push my teammates. I’ll always be positive no matter what.

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