LOS ANGELES—The Lakers loss their fourth straight game on Friday, March 17, 107-103, against the Milwaukee Bucks, but the biggest story of the night came from a late third quarter skirmish that resulted in the ejections of Nick Young, D’Angelo Russel and Greg Monroe. The Lakers were well on their way to a third straight double-digit loss when the skirmish gave them the momentum to bring the game to within two points.
This past week the Lakers have routinely given up large leads quickly and they continued the routine on Friday. They allowed 61 first half points and trailed the Bucks by 15 heading into halftime. Things got interesting in the third quarter though as the Lakers defense tightened up. Outside of all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo, no one on the Bucks could get anything going. Save for a layup by Greg Monroe and Brandon Bogdon, the ‘Greek Freak’ was the only Buck to score in the third quarter.
Speaking of Bogdon and Monroe, their mix-up with Lakers guards Young and Russell was the story of the night. With 36 seconds left in the third quarter, Bogdon fouled Young hard on his way to the basket, hitting him in his head/neck area. Young retaliated with a push, which prompted Monroe who fiercely shoved Young. Russell came to his teammates aid as he pushed Monroe back and multiple team officials and referees got involved before order was restored. Lakers head coach Luke Walton took issue with this, as he alleged a Bucks employee “put hands” on one of his players.
“Watching the tape, one of their employees is on the floor, and he grabs Brandon by the jersey and shoves him — not holding him back, shoves him — and that doesn’t get addressed either?” Walton asked. “If there’s nothing wrong with that, then I have no problem finding some people to hire on our staff.”
Walton, who spoke about the issue at length after the game, was =upset that Russell got ejected for pushing Monroe
“I just watched [the replay]. I’m going to need an explanation on it because it made no sense to me,” said an agitated Walton. “They told me that D’Angelo got kicked out for escalating the situation. But D’Angelo only responded after Monroe had grabbed Nick by the neck and thrown him. If D’Angelo didn’t push him, I would’ve been pissed off at D’Angelo. He did the right thing.”
The whole episode was a stark change in team unity compared to three years ago when Young got in an altercation with the whole Suns squad and no one came to his aid. Young took notice and praised his teammates for the support.
“I love the way these young guys stepped up for me,” Young said. “As a team — the whole coaching staff, players — we’ve got each others’ backs. That’s unity. That’s a team.”
When all was said and done, the momentum began to sway towards the Lakers who were able to make it a close game. Khris Middleton, who had a game high 30 points, scored 14 of them in the fourth and he pushed the Bucks lead to 10 with only two minutes left. Jordan Clarkson helped the Lakers go on a run and make it close, coming to within two points, but the Lakers ran out of time.