The Lakers and Clippers may have morphed into contentious crosstown rivals. But Kobe Bryant understandably supported Clippers forward Blake Griffin a day after Thunder forward Serge Ibaka earned a flagrant foul 1 for swinging his arm at Griffin in the groin area in the final minutes of Oklahoma City’s win over the Clippers.
“I probably would have smacked him in the mouth,” Bryant said after practice Monday at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo.
Griffin didn’t get the chance to do that. He understandably slumped to the ground.
“I would’ve dealt with the pain afterwards,” Bryant said.
It remains to be seen what the NBA will do.
Ibaka’s foul surprisingly didn’t result in an ejection, which a play that coincided with the Clippers taking a 100-99 lead with 1:30 left after scoring seven unanswered points. But to the Clippers’ frustration, Ibaka then scored on a three-point play. The Thunder afterwards insisted Ibaka meant no ill intent. But replays clearly show Ibaka deliberately fouled Griffin in the groin area.
The NBA is currently reviewing the play, which may result in Ibaka’s suspension when the Lakers (30-30) visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (43-16) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“It doesn’t matter,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They’re deep. It won’t change what we do. Obviously it would help us because he’s a good player. But we won’t change anything up.”
As for the rest of the Lakers, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard professed they hadn’t seen the play since they were taking an afternoon nap before the Lakers’ eventual 99-98 win Sunday over the Atlanta Hawks. But Howard couldn’t resist cracking a few jokes when the media detailed Ibaka’s foul.
“You gotta wear a cup,” Howard said.
The Lakers center then took another dig as he analyzed Bryant’s play.
“He goes hard,” Howard said. “Balls out. Serge Ibaka.”
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