NBA investigating postgame incident between Rockets, Clippers

Monday’s heated contest between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t quite end when the teams left the court. The NBA is investigating a postgame visit to the Clippers locker room by a group of Rockets players, who were escorted away by security. The incident is the latest chapter in a budding rivalry that appears to be centered around former teammates Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

The bad blood was evident throughout the game, which Los Angeles won 113-102. Griffin played with an extra physical edge all night, at one point bumping into Houston coach Mike D’Antoni along the sideline, which led to some profanity from D’Antoni. Griffin put up 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists before he was ejected in the late stages of the fourth quarter along with Trevor Ariza of the Rockets following yet another heated exchange. Despite being injured, Griffin’s teammate Austin Rivers was an active verbal participant in the on-court skirmishes occurring near the end of the game, shouting at and taunting Houston players about the Clippers’ impending victory.

What happened after the game is murky, but according to ESPN, it was Ariza who wanted to confront the Clippers, while his teammates including Paul and James Harden attempted to slow him down. The group of Houston players made their way through a back hallway at Staples Center and caused some commotion when they appeared at an entrance to the Clippers’ locker room, with conflicting accounts as to what was said and who from the Rockets entered the room.

The Clippers are adamant that they did nothing wrong and all of their players and personnel were where they were supposed to be after a game while the Houston players chose to come to their locker room. For the Rockets, the incident is a display of vulnerability from the second-best team in the Western Conference, as they will now need to regroup and show other opponents that they can’t be rattled off their game in a similar manner again.

The Clippers and the Rockets will meet once more during the regular season in Houston in March, which will likely be long after any potential suspensions stemming from Monday’s incident have expired. Extra security should be expected.