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Lakers sound off on Dillon Brooks after hard foul on LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt ejection: ‘It’s bogus’

Dillon Brooks has become one of the NBA’s best-known agitators over his seven-year career.

Brooks was in peak form during the Rockets’ 135-119 win over the Lakers, provoking Jarred Vanderbilt into an ejection and adding another chapter to the beef between himself and LeBron James with a flagrant foul against the 39-year-old forward.

That Brooks and James got into it wasn’t a surprise. The duo has a longstanding feud and has traded barbs off the court plenty of times over the last calendar year. Now, they are back to doing it on the court again as both the Lakers and Rockets jockey for position in the NBA’s Western Conference.

Here’s what to know about Brooks’ tiffs with both Vanderbilt and James from the Rockets vs. Lakers Monday night tilt.

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Jarred Vanderbilt ejected after spat with Dillon Brooks

Brooks first managed to get in Vanderbilt’s head in the early stages of the second quarter. The Rockets wing gave the Lakers forward a small shove under the hoop after Austin Reaves made a basket for Los Angeles.

Vanderbilt struck back with a push of his own, and that drew a technical foul from the officiating crew.

After briefly jawing with the officials, Vanderbilt went after Brooks again. This time, the Lakers forward tried to poke Brooks in the back of the head, resulting in Vanderbilt quickly picking up a second technical foul and being tossed from the game.

Vanderbilt’s qualm with Brooks didn’t appear limited to their shoving match underneath the basket. Vanderbilt was also ticked off that Brooks had pushed him from behind as he drove to the bucket a few plays earlier.

Vanderbilt went flying toward the stanchion but was luckily unharmed. Brooks was whistled for a foul on the play, but neither Vanderbilt nor his teammates thought it was enough.

“He’s going for a wide-open dunk and [Brooks] just pushed him in the back,” Anthony Davis explained of that play, per ESPN. “It’s not a safe play. Guys get hurt like that. And you got to know what type of player [Brooks] is. [The referees] kind of let that just keep going on and [Brooks] kind of provoked it. He talks and says whatever he wants to the refs, to players and at the end of the day, we’re men.

“No man is going to talk towards another man the way he was talking to Vando. So, Vando did what he had to do.”

Vanderbilt’s actions got him ejected after just seven minutes on the court. He finished the day with three points — all of which came on the play that Brooks fouled him — and a steal.

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Dillon Brooks commits flagrant foul on LeBron James

Brooks wasn’t done after getting into it with Vanderbilt. The first-year Rocket also continued his running feud with James by committing a flagrant foul against the Lakers star midway through the fourth quarter.

Brooks’ swipe at James occurred as both were fighting for a rebound under Houston’s basket. Brooks came from behind the veteran forward and managed to get his hands on the ball. However, as he tried to knock it out of James’ hands, he swung his arm down and clocked the Lakers forward in the face.

James crumpled to the ground in pain as a result of the hit.

Ultimately, Brooks was called for a Flagrant 1, as his contact on James was deemed unnecessary but not excessive. This was likely because Brooks at least appeared to be making a play on the ball.

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As a result, Brooks was able to continue playing to help the Rockets close out a victory.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham was not happy with that decision, especially considering Brooks’ antics with Vanderbilt from earlier in the contest.

“Being competitive is one thing,” Ham said, per ESPN. “But … putting players at risk of injury with certain plays — I just watched it again [on video] before I came in here, [Brooks] pushes him in the back, a guy that’s in the air. Airborne, defenseless. Then Bron’s play, Bron goes to the basket and it’s a double move with his arms. One arm trying to deflect the ball and it goes back and then it goes across [James’] face.

“So maybe Dillon Brooks shouldn’t have been in the game, either.”

Davis took it a step further with his assessment.

“It’s bogus,” Davis said. “I mean, you take a hard foul, that’s part of basketball, but you just not going to blatantly push someone in their back when they have no control of their body in the air. And he should have gotten ejected for that. And then you know him and Bron have their [collision] and from what I saw, it was just a blatant hit to LeBron to his face.

“The refs saw it differently. It is what it is.”

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