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Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul was honored last night at the Staples Center, as he played his former team for the first time since requesting a trade during the offseason. The Clippers recognized Paul with a video montage highlighting his career in LA. However, not everyone seemed to be excited to see Paul back in the building.
The game was contentious from the very start. Rockets and Clippers players were involved in several skirmishes throughout the game, including a few between Paul and Blake Griffin. The tension continued to build up until the fourth quarter, when all hell seemed to break loose. Griffin hit an and-1 over Paul, which resulted in a war of words between both teams, including Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who appeared to the say “F— you” to Blake Griffin after the play.
The tension didn’t dissipate even during the waning minutes of the game, when Griffin and Trevor Ariza got tangled up after Ariza was chirping back and forth with the Austin Rivers and Patrick Beverly on the Clippers bench, both of whom were not playing due to injury. Both Ariza and Griffin were ejected after the interaction.
The Clippers left the court with a 113-102 victory, but the night was far from over. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Ariza, Paul and James Harden marched through a back corridor and into the Clippers’ locker room late Monday night, suggesting that they wanted to confront Clippers players Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin.
Along with Ariza, Paul and Harden, Gerald Green also accompanied the trio to infiltrate the Clippers’ locker room from the back entrance. This came as a surprise to Clippers players who were celebrating the win in their locker room before realizing there was an angry mob of Rockets players calling for their heads.
Sources say a few Clippers players dared the Rockets to make a move but security and team officials converged on the Rockets, pushing them out and back toward the visiting locker room. Later on, Rockets center Clint Capela walked down the main corridor and banged on the front entrance to the Clippers’ locker room. A Clippers staff member opened and slammed the door in Capela’s face, after which he returned to the Rockets’ locker room to depart with the team.
The NBA will investigate the matter further and start gathering information on Tuesday. For those who are curious, the Rockets and Clippers play each other again on February 28th and there are probably a few guys who have that game circled on their calendar after last night’s fireworks.
Written By: Kendall Garriss