Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard had to be separated by teammates as the Los Angeles Lakers collapsed in an eighth straight loss with a 115-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
After losing their six preseason games, the Lakers continued their season opener against Golden State on Tuesday with another rambling performance at Staples Center.
And tensions within the new Lakers team boiled over in the first half when Davis and Howard clashed on the bench during a timeout.
Several Lakers players, including LeBron James, rushed to separate the duo, Davis gesturing as he was pushed back.
Coach Frank Vogel then played down the altercation, which he said was the result of poor communication on the pitch.
“Dwight and AD got a mistake on a cover and they talked about it,” Vogel said. “When you get your ass kicked, sometimes these conversations get heated up.
“These guys love each other, they talked about it. And it’s going to happen every now and then – I’d rather our guys care than not care.”
Howard later told reporters that he settled his differences with Davis.
“We crushed him right away,” Howard said. “We’re both very passionate about winning and we didn’t want to lose this game. But we’re adults, we made it. We crushed it.
“There is no problem between me and him, he is my brother, my teammate.”
The Lakers led early in the second quarter against last season’s NBA Finals finalists, but were overwhelmed in the third quarter as the Suns took a 32-point lead.
Chris Paul led the scoring for Phoenix with 23 points and 14 assists while Devin Booker had 22 points, with Mikal Bridges adding 21.
James led the Lakers in scorers with 25 points while Davis added 22 with 14 rebounds in a losing effort.
Russell Westbrook was one assist away from his first triple double for the Lakers, with 11 rebounds, nine assists and 15 points.
– The Sixers collapse –
Elsewhere on Friday, Kevin Durant scored a 29-point triple-double as the Brooklyn Nets punished a late Philadelphia 76ers collapse to claim their first victory of the season.
The Nets looked set for a second straight loss after their first loss to Milwaukee after the Sixers took a 108-98 lead with just five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But the Sixers’ hopes of extending their unbeaten start to the season evaporated as their shooting accuracy abandoned them in the playoffs.
The Sixers made 10 misses as the Nets turned a 10-point deficit into a 114-109 win with a 16-1 streak.
Durant finished with 15 rebounds and 12 assists as well as 29 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 23 points and James Harden 20.
Joe Harris added 14 on the bench while Patty Mills added 11.
The Sixers led the entire game until they collapsed at the end of the fourth quarter, 14 points clear in the first quarter alone.
But they were unable to respond as Brooklyn picked up the pace in the fourth quarter with a more physical approach.
Nets coach Steve Nash said his team, still adjusting to the absence of Kyrie Irving, unavailable due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, had been “relentless During the final phase.
“I don’t think there’s anything we’re going to bottle and put into a museum from this one, but it was a team effort,” Nash said.
Seth Curry and Tobias Harris led Philadelphia with 23 points each while Joel Embiid finished with 19.
The Sixers’ preparations had been overshadowed by another twist in the saga surrounding Australian star Ben Simmons, who informed the club earlier on Friday that he was not mentally ready to join the team.
Simmons, who was suspended for Wednesday’s season opener, told the Sixers he wanted to leave the club.
Elsewhere on Friday, the New York Knicks claimed two of every two wins, beating the Orlando Magic 121-96 in Florida.
Julius Randle, the hero of the Knicks’ double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, finished with 21 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.