Vanderbilt was ejected early in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 135-119 loss to the Houston Rockets after he got into it with Brooks under the rim. Vanderbilt, while jostling for position to try to get a rebound, shoved Brooks hard in the chest with his forearm well after the play. That earned him a quick technical foul.
Then, while arguing with officials over the call, Vanderbilt reached out and flicked Brooks in the back of the head as he was walking away. That earned Vanderbilt a second technical foul and his ejection. Brooks just laughed and walked away to the other end of the court.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 30, 2024
Vanderbilt finished with three points and a steal in seven minutes off the bench for the Lakers. The 24-year-old entered Monday averaging 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game this season, his sixth in the league. He’s in the final year of a three-year, $13 million deal he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Brooks, who has been in a number of similar altercations in recent years, seemed completely unbothered by Vanderbilt’s actions. Brooks was ejected from a preseason game and fined after he hit Indiana Pacers center Daniel Theis in the groin in October, which is something he did to LeBron James in the playoffs last year before blaming the media for turning him into a villain. Brooks joined the Rockets this past offseason on a four-year, $80 million sign-and-trade deal.
Brooks had 10 points and two rebounds at halftime while helping the Rockets to a 78-60 lead at the Toyota Center. He hit back-to-back buckets, including a buzzer-beater, to end the half.
— NBA (@NBA) January 30, 2024
Brooks was hit with a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter Monday after he drilled James directly in the face while trying to get a rebound.
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) January 30, 2024
James, though, missed both free throws after that foul. The Rockets, up by 16 after that sequence, simply held on to take the 16-point win.
James didn't want to talk about Brooks after the game.
LeBron James when asked about Dillon Brooks postgame: “Next question.” pic.twitter.com/l4zBNa1j6g
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 30, 2024
Jalen Green led the Rockets with 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the win. Alperen Sengun was right behind him with 31 points and 12 rebounds, and Cam Whitmore added 20 points off the bench. Brooks finished with 17 points after shooting 7-of-12 from the field.
James led the Lakers with 23 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in the loss. Both Anthony Davis and D'Angelo Russell finished with 23 points, too. The loss dropped the Lakers to 24-24 on the season, though they've won five of their past eight games. They'll take on the Atlanta Hawks next on Tuesday.