Tensions on the road came to a head during the Houston Rockets’ latest matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers this past Saturday night. Late in the game there was an exchange of words between LeBron James and Rockets head coach Ime Udoka that led to Udoka’s first ejection as a coach.
While each party received a technical foul following the confrontation, this happened to be Udoka’s second technical foul of the game.
Udoka has since revealed that this altercation was, in part, a strategy to get his team to step up. Udoka said, “We want a competitive group, which we do have. But I talked to the guys about not taking a backseat to anyone. Opponents, as well as teammates and certain guys. We have certain guys who would address it, but we want everyone to be that guy.”
Rockets forward Dillon Brooks has since been outspoken about his disappointment in the officiating. Tre Maddox, J.T. Orr, and Dedric Taylor were the referees assigned to the game. Brooks admitted that he “tried to push LeBron away” during the altercation but it was to no avail as he believed the referees were unable to manage the situation.
“I tried to push LeBron away from it,” Brooks said. “The refs just let it get out of hand.”
He went on to say, “A terrible group out there…They lost control of the game. It’s very inconsistent and that’s what you get from inconsistent — a whole bunch of nonsense…He wasn’t backing down to anybody. He played the game before. We’re still finding our identity as a team, and with our coach standing up for us, it’s a big thing.”
In the end, the Rockets were defeated by the Lakers 107-97 which marked their eighth consecutive loss on the road. The Rockets remain the only team this season without a road win.