Push comes to shove for the Lakers’ Ron Artest
Buried amid another one-sided road loss was a rare outburst by Ron Artest this season.
The Lakers forward was shoved Wednesday by Atlanta Hawks forward Maurice Evans after boxing him out for a rebound, perhaps getting his elbow a little too high for Evans’ liking.
Artest then jogged toward Evans to say something but was pulled away before arriving. Evans would have been the only one to receive a technical foul on the play, but then Artest earned one too for going toward him.
“I don’t even remember what happened, really,” Artest said. “There was a lot going on. I really don’t know.”
Said Evans: “Artest is a good friend of mine. We’re just intense, just competing. We talked about it afterwards. It’s all just part of the competition.”
It was only the fifth technical foul this season for Artest. Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers with 12 technical fouls. Lamar Odom has seven.
Artest and Evans weren’t the only brush-up between the teams in the second half of the Hawks’ 109-92 victory.
Hawks forward Marvin Williams was hit with a flagrant foul after pulling Pau Gasol down on an attempted layup.
Gasol didn’t seem irked. No words were exchanged.
Benching the bench
The Lakers’ reserves have been outscored the last two games, 90-34.
Jordan Farmar had 16 points against Atlanta or else the disparity could have been worse.
“He’s about it off the bench for us,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.
Shannon Brown had three points on one-for-five shooting. Adam Morrison had two points, Josh Powell had one and DJ Mbenga was scoreless in almost seven minutes.
Sasha Vujacic did not play a third consecutive game, part of his punishment for an argument with assistant coach Brian Shaw last Friday against Oklahoma City.
The reserves are playing without Odom, who moved into the starting lineup after Andrew Bynum was injured, and are also without Luke Walton, sidelined since Feb. 10 because of recurring back pain.
The lack of production among the reserves made Jackson long for Walton, who might practice Thursday and could return Friday against Utah or Sunday against San Antonio.
“Luke has skills that have been used in this offense and with this team a lot,” Jackson said.
Walton has played only 24 games, primarily because of a pinched nerve in his lower back. He is averaging 2.4 points and 8.3 minutes a game.