The NBA is expected to complete its investigation Wednesday into the incident involving the Clippers and Rockets in which several Houston players entered the Clippers’ locker-room area following Monday night’s game at Staples Center, according to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The league was interviewing all the subjects that took part, members of the two teams and security.
Rockets forward Trevor Ariza has been considered the “instigator” and could face the harshest punishment when the league makes its decision on whether to fine or suspend players, according to the officials.
The officials said Ariza led teammates James Harden and Gerald Green down a hallway that connects both teams’ locker rooms. All three of them got into the Clippers’ training room before they were stopped by security from entering the locker-room area where the Clippers were sitting, according to the officials.
Former Clippers guard Chris Paul, who was reported to have to have led the charge, actually followed his three Rockets teammates down the hallway, but he was on the “edge” of the locker room, according to one official.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, who played for the Rockets last season and was in the trade involving Paul, and center DeAndre Jordan both stepped in and tried to defuse the situation. Beverley (season-ending right knee surgery) and Jordan (left ankle injury) didn’t play in the game.
Ariza was at first trying to get at Clippers forward Blake Griffin and then the Rockets small forward wanted to confront Clippers guard Austin Rivers, who was mouthing off once he saw Ariza’s face in the doorway, according to one official.
Ariza, Harden, Green and Paul all could be heard swearing at the Clippers, said the officials.
Houston’s Tarik Black and Clint Capela also tried to get into the Clippers’ locker room but were prevented from entering.
The Clippers coaching staff was addressing the players after their win when they heard a “lot of noise” and saw Ariza, Harden, Green and Paul, according to several officials who witnessed the happenings.
Ariza, Harden and Green were “close” to getting into the area where the Clippers were finishing up their meeting, according to the officials.
The Clippers and Rockets play twice more this season, Feb. 28 in Los Angeles and March 15 in Houston. The Clippers are 2-0 against the Rockets this season. Paul did not play the first time the teams met because of injury.
It’s not the first time the Clippers and an opponent have gotten into a beef in the locker-room area at Staples Center.
After Game 7 of a 2014 first-round playoff series between the Clippers and Warriors, players from Golden State charged down that same corridor and tried to enter the Clippers’ locker room.
Apparently the door between the two locker rooms can’t be locked, and that’s why the players have access.
The game between the Clippers and Rockets took on an ugly tone in the fourth quarter when Griffin and Houston coach Mike D’Antoni exchanged words after Griffin had scored while being fouled by Paul.
D’Antoni told reporters that Griffin had intentionally “hit me” on a previous possession after Griffin ran up court and ventured near D’Antoni.
Griffin and D’Antoni, who were hit with technical fouls, swore at each other on the sideline after the Paul foul. “Well, after he said what he said, I said the same thing back,” Griffin said.
With 1:03 left, Griffin and Ariza exchanged words, but it occurred after Ariza and Rivers, who was sitting on the bench with an injured ankle, started talking trash to each other.
Griffin and Ariza were ejected. As Griffin walked off the court with his second technical foul, he took off his jersey and threw it into the stands, yelling as he walked off.
CLIPPERS VS DENVER NUGGETS
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. PT.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket, ESPN; Radio: 570.