The Story: Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green have each been suspended two games for Monday’s postgame altercation. According to a press release sent out by the NBA, Ariza and Green entered the Clippers’ locker room after L.A.’s 113-102 win over the Rockets “to confront a player from the opposing team” and then engaged in a “hostile, verbal altercation.” Chris Paul and James Harden—the latter of whom did not play in the game—were considered “peacemakers” in the ordeal after the league conducted 20 interviews with players, coaches, staff, and arena personnel. (Personally, I can’t wait for the eight-part Netflix special.)
The Importance: The Rockets will be missing two of their key role players for their next two games, which come against the Timberwolves on Thursday and the Warriors on Saturday. Green has only been on the team for 10 games (side note: either Green’s loyalty to the team came quickly or he just likes to scrap), but he’s averaging 15.6 points per game and shooting 41.5 percent from 3; Ariza has been a cog in Houston’s system for the past four seasons.
Though Harden is expected to return on Thursday, per ESPN, the absence of the two Rockets swingmen strips away some of the significance of Saturday’s potential Western Conference finals preview.
This whole fiasco—“fight,” altercation, whatever you want to call it—has been pretty ridiculous considering not much actually happened. Of course, considering what a spectacle it became, the league was bound to get involved. It is notable, however, that Blake Griffin, who appeared to purposely bump into Mike D’Antoni during the game, was not suspended or fined.
”The contact was very minimal. Griffin was inbounds. D’Antoni was right next to the line,” Kiki VanDeWeghe, the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations, told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
The Takeaway: The scant details that emerged late on Monday led us to some weird places—such as thinking the Rockets had planned to do this at Chris Paul’s directive (being a former Clipper, he knew about the connecting locker rooms) and sent Clint Capela to the Clippers’ front door to act as a diversion. After the league’s investigation, neither of those initial theories appear to be true.
On the locker-room door part of the story: League sources say the commotion caused by Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green getting into the Clippers' locker room was already underway and prompted Tarik Black -- NOT Capela -- to approach the Clips' front entrance before being turned away— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 18, 2018
Secret tunnel or not, planned ambush or not, the animosity between Ariza, Green, and Austin Riv—I mean, the Clippers, appears to be very real. At least the jokes were good while they lasted.
Addendum to the Rockets-Clippers story: Austin Rivers and Trevor Ariza had a conversation soon after the incident to resolve their differences. There has been no resolution between Austin Rivers and Chris Paul, however.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 18, 2018
We can still hope for a playoff series between these two teams. Do they have connecting locker rooms in Houston?