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Live updates: There’s a melee, punches and ejections before Lakers fall to Rockets

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On the night LeBron James introduced his game to Los Angeles in earnest, a fight on the floor stole the show. With 4:13 left in the fourth quarter, officials called a foul on Brandon Ingram, which led to a true melee, the kind rarely seen in NBA games. Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul threw punches, leading to ejections. The Lakers eventually fell to last season’s Western Conference finalists 124-115 in the home debut of the greatest player of his generation.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope makes up for cold shooting with defense

Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope argues a call with referee Jason Phillips during the first half Saturday night.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

With a confident look in his eyes, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up to shoot the technical-foul free throw for the Lakers in the second quarter of their home opener against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on Saturday night.

Caldwell-Pope missed.

It was that kind of night for him and it’s been that way for Caldwell-Pope from the exhibition season through his first two games with the Lakers.

His offense has not quite caught up to his solid defense, his shots betraying him seemingly at every turn.

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L.A. rolls out purple-and-gold carpet for its new star

There are high expectations for the Lakers' new star.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Before LeBron James got announced to the roar of a home crowd for the first time as a Laker on Saturday night, the man with more points than anyone ever to play in the NBA walked down the aisle between the first and second rows to his seat.

Phones were in the air, snapping photos and filming videos as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar strolled by, but hardly anyone was thinking about the 38,387 points he scored in his career. No, the Lakers fans at Staples Center were more peeved with the big man’s most recent block.

Even though Abdul-Jabbar is immortalized in a statue outside of Staples Center, he was just a large, moving barrier between those cellphones and LeBron James, who was on the court, merely warming up.

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LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony continue a curious tradition

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have a well-documented friendship that goes back nearly two decades.
(Brian Bahr / Getty Images)

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have a well-documented friendship that goes back nearly two decades.

On Saturday night they faced each other in James’ home debut as a Laker — continuing what has become something of a tradition.

James’ first NBA home game came in 2003 against Anthony’s Denver Nuggets. James had seven points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in a loss; Anthony had 14, six and two. James’ first home game in his 2014 return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was a loss against Anthony’s New York Knicks. James scored 17 points with five rebounds and four assists while Anthony scored 25 with six assists and two rebounds.

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Brawl near end of game steals the show in LeBron James’ home debut, a loss to Rockets

Rockets point guard Chris Paul trades punches with Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo, who is next to the referee.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

On the night LeBron James introduced his game to Los Angeles in earnest, a fight on the floor stole the show.

With 4:13 remaining in the Lakers’ home opener Saturday against Houston, a foul on Brandon Ingram sparked an absolute melee, the kind rarely seen in NBA games these days.

stood over referee Jason Phillips and shouted at him before Lance Stephenson rushed over to pull him away. Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul stood inches away from each other’s faces. Paul reached forward to poke Rondo in the face, Rondo punched him in his, and Paul fired back. Ingram ran from across the court to throw a punch too.

Eventually James, Paul’s close friend, threw his arms around him and dragged him away.

Ingram, Rondo and Paul were ejected and likely will be suspended and heavily fined. As the public address announcer told the arena of the players’ fate, the crowd defiantly began to chant “RON-DO!”

The fight didn’t fire up the Lakers, though. Harden made two tehcnical-foul free throws and the Lakers never got any closer than within one as the Rockets held on for a 124-115 win.

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LeBron James discusses the Lakers’ loss and the brawl late in game

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Punches thrown by Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram during melee with 4:13 left

James Harden was fouled on a transition layup, which triggered some words and eventually punches.

Brandon Ingram shoved Harden after the foul call. Players were separated, but Chris Paul got in the face of Rajon Rondo, possibly poking him in the face, which led the Lakers point guard to start shoving and swinging.

As that melee was being dealt with, Ingram ran in from behind Paul and started throwing punches.

Rondo, Ingram and Paul have all been ejected.

The Rockets lead 111-108 after Harden made a technical free throw.

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Rockets defeat Lakers 124-115 in a wild finish

The Rockets took control in the closing minutes after players threw punches, leading to three ejections, to defeat the Lakers 124-115.

James Harden made a three-pointer with 1:12 left to give Houston a 120-113 lead.

Kyle Kuzma made a driving layup, but Harden answered it with one of his own to make it 122-115.

After Josh Hart missed a layup, Eric Gordon sealed the deal with a layup 19 seconds left to provide the final margin.

LeBron James finished with 24 points, five rebounds and five assists while JaVale McGee had 16 points, six rebounds and five blocked shot.

Lonzo Ball made four three-points to finish with 14 points and six rebounds.

Harden had a game-high 36 points on 10 of 19 shooting, making 5 of 10 from long range and 11 of 15 free throws. He had 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

Chris Paul finished with 28 points on 9 of 17 shooting while making 7 of 9 free throws and 10 assists. Clint Capela contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds.

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Lakers cut their deficit to one point with 5:15 left

The Lakers force the Rockets to call a timeout with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter after Lonzo Ball pump-fakes a three-pointer then drives pass the defender and lobs a pass to JaVale McGee for a dunk that cuts the Rockets lead to 109-108.

Houston took control midway through the quarter with Eric Gordon converting a three-point play and Harden knocking down a three-pointer for a 109-104 lead.

But LeBron James converted a pair of free throws and then stole a pass and fed Rajon Rondo for a breakaway layup.

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Rockets maintain slim lead over Lakers

Houston again started a quarter strong, outscoring the Lakers 7-2 to open a 103-97 lead with 10:31 left.

James Ennis III made a three-pointer between a layup and a jumper by Clint Capela while the Lakers only mustered a put-back basket by Kyle Kuzma.

Josh Hart was fouled on a transition drive by Ennis, who was called for a flagrant foul 1 with 9:47 remaining.

Hart missed both free throws, though. The Lakers came up empty on that possession, but on their next Lonzo Ball drained his fourth three-point shot of the game in seven attempts to cut the deficit to 103-100 with 9:07 left.

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Lakers trail 98-97 after three quarters

The Lakers surged into the lead near the end of the third quarter before Rockets point guard Chris Paul made a driving layup to give Houston a 98-97 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Brandon Ingram converted a layup and had a put-back during a 10-2 run, sandwiching three-pointers by Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball, giving the Lakers a 95-93 advantage.

Paul made a three-pointer for a brief Rockets lead, but Hart answered with a layup to give the Lakers a 97-96 edge.

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Rockets continue to cling to lead over Lakers in third quarter

The Rockets lead the Lakers 91-85 with 3:52 left in the third quarter.

It’s been back and forth during the second half, with Houston continuing to maintain a slim lead.

The Lakers trimmed their deficit to 84-81 with 5:39 left in the third quarter when LeBron James made a layup off a feed from Rajon Rondo. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had made a three-point play on the Lakers’ previous possession.

But Houston scored on three consecutive possessions, with Carmelo Anthony hitting a turnaround jumper, Gerald Green knocking down a three-pointer and Eric Gordon scoring inside on a jump hook. The Lakers could only muster a James layup during that span.

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Rockets start hot in third quarter but Lakers answer back

Houston opened strong in the third quarter with James Harden and James Ennis III making back-to-back three-pointers for a 72-62 lead, the biggest of the game.

LeBron James answered with a long-range shot of his own. He had another three-pointer rattle out moments later, but Rajon Rondo hustled into the lane to steal the rebound and lay it in while still in the air to cut the deficit to 72-68 with 10:41 left in the third quarter.

Rockets center Clint Capela converted a three-point play to stretch the lead to seven after a JaVale McGee foul. McGee, though, answered with a turnaround jumper of his own.

The big men exchanged more baskets, with Capela scoring on an alley-oop dunk with Harden and McGee taking a lob from Rondo to finish with a slam.

Paul and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope traded baskets before McGee scored on a driving layup to cut the Lakers’ deficit to 79-76 with 7:23 left in the third quarter.

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Rockets lead the Lakers 66-62 at halftime

It was back and forth over the final four minutes of the second quarter. There were six lead changes and three ties during that span.

Rajon Rondo gave the Lakers a 58-57 lead when knocking down a three-pointer with 1:57 left. James Harden gave Houston the lead after drawing another foul against Kyle Kuzma on a three-pointer, converting all three free throws for a 60-58 lead.

A put-back by JaVale McGee and a driving layup by Josh Hart with 57 second left returned the lead to the Lakers, but Hard nailed a three-pointer and Chris Paul converted three of four free throws to give the Lakers a 66-62 lead at halftime.

Harden leads all scores with 23 points on 6 of 13 shooting, including 3 of 7 from long range. He has 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Paul had 19 points on 5 of 10 shooting, including 2 of 4 three-pointers, 7 assists and 4 rebounds.

James leads the Lakers with 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting with 3 assists and 2 rebounds, while Rondo has 9 points on 4 of 5 shooting with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.

The Lakers made 27 of 53 shots from the field (50.9%), but only 4 of 16 from long range. The Rockets made 24 of 52 shots from the field (46.2%), including 9 of 22 from long range (40.9%).

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Rockets hold slim lead over Lakers late in second quarter

Things are starting to get interesting with Lance Stephenson on the court.

After he made a layup for a 50-49 lead with 5:22 left in the second quarter, he head-bumped James Harden, who took exception and shoved the Lakers swingman. Earning a technical.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the free throw, a series of empty possessions occurred before Harden threw down a dunk for a 51-50 Rockets lead.

After Harden made a free throw, Rajon Rondo tied the score at 52-all with a mid-range jumper in transition. LeBron James made one of two free throws for a short-lived Lakers lead with 3:25 left before halftime.

Paul and James dominated the action for a bit, with the Rockets point guard converting a three-point play when fouled by Kyle Kuzma and James answering with a layup.

Paul made a floater with 2:25 left in the quarter for a 57-55 Rockets lead.

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Lonzo Ball makes a pair of three-pointers to help Lakers tie score midway through second quarter

The Rockets quickly opened a 37-28 lead in the second quarter when Clint Capela took passes from Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony for a dunk and a layup with Paul knocked down a jumper.

Lonzo Ball converted a pair of three-pointers, though, to stem the momentum. When Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James added driving layups a minute later, the Lakers had cut their deficit to one, 39-38.

Paul answered with a three-pointer from the wing, but Josh Hart got down the lane for a pair of layups to tie the score at 42-all.

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Rockets lead the Lakers after the first quarter

The Rockets reclaimed the lead on a pair of three-pointers by James Harden and Carmelo Anthony, but Lonzo Ball made a driving layup off an assist from Kyle Kuzma for a 23-22 lead.

Houston quickly reclaimed the lead, 24-23, on Harden’s layup in transition. After a couple of empty possession for each team, Jeff Green got loose on the weakside for an alley-oop layup off a pass from Chris Paul.

Lonzo Ball and Eric Gordon traded missed three-point shots after that before Kuzma missed a mid-range jumper.

Play became a little ragged toward the end of the quarter. JaVale McGee made one of two free throws after drawing a foul and Lance Stephenson made a couple of nice hustle, stealing a rebound out of the hands of a Rocket and powered his way for a layup to tied the score at 26-all.

The Rockets had the best of the final minutes, with Paul drawing a pair of fouls and making four free throws while Anthony closed the quarter with a turnaround jumper for a 31-28 lead. Kuzma knocked down a reverse layup in between those possessions.

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Lakers take the lead midway through the first quarter

JaVale McGree knocked down a mid-range jumper with 6:37 left in the first quarter to give the Lakers their first lead at 16-14.

The Lakers extended the lead after Michael Carter-Williams missed a pair of free throws when Kyle Kuzma, fresh into the game, nailed a three-point shot.

James Harden then juked Kuzma into the air on the Rockets’ next possession to create a foul and three free throws. Harden made two to cut the Lakes lead to 19-16.

Brandon Ingram drew a foul at the other end and made both free throws for a 21-16 lead with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

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We’re underway at Staples Center for Lakers home opener against Rockets

After a rousing introduction session, the game gets underway at 7:47 p.m.

The Lakers get off a shot, miss it, get the rebound and then fail to get off another shot before a clock violation.

Chris Paul answers at the other end with a three-pointer.

After another empty possession for the Lakers, Rockets center Clint Capela scores off a layup in transition for a quick 5-0 Rockets lead.

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Lakers rally from early deficit to tie the score, 14-14

Clint Capela has been the early protagonist, scoring six early points on a variety of inside shots to help the Rockets to a 9-4 lead.

But the Lakers got untracked with some offensive rebound and hustle play.

Rajon Rondo stole a ball in the backcourt and scored on a layup, JaVale McGee spun baseline for a dunk and on an ensuing possession drove the baseline, lost the handle but found LeBron James cutting down the lane for a slam to make it 14-all with 7:03 left in the first quarter.

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Some folks are just fine hanging around outside Staples Center

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We’re about 10 minutes from tipoff

The ESPN pregame crew has handed things off to the folks inside Staples Center and moments ago a countdown clocked showed 11 minutes until tipoff.

Hopefully.

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Some locals are putting on a show outside Staples Center.

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Lakers putting up shots in preparation for home opener

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Check out the shoes Josh Hart is sporting during Lakers’ warmups

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Greeting from outside Staples Center

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Lakers great Elgin Baylor has entered the building

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LeBron James instills confidence much like Kobe Bryant did, Luke Walton says

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The fashionable arrivals for Lakers-Rockets game

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Waiting for the court to be readied

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The King arrives for home opener . . . in familiar LA gear

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Game preview courtesy of the Lakers’ Brian Shaw and Joey Ramirez

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The media horde will be arriving soon

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Practice makes ... at least not 0-15 to start?

The Lakers missed their first 15 three-point shots in the opener against the Trail Blazers on Thursday night in Portland.

A little practice at Saturday’s shootaround will hopefully help the team improve that against the Rockets in the home opener that starts at 7:30 p.m. PDT at Staples Center.

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No changes in the Lakers’ starting 5

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Did LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony talk about teaming up with the Lakers this summer?

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will face each other tonight at Staples Center when the Lakers host the Houston Rockets. Anthony is on a one-year, minimum deal — the kind the Lakers doled out to several veterans on their roster.

When James was asked if he and Anthony spoke this summer about possibly teaming up in Los Angeles, James was coy.

“There was a lot of conversation between basketball, between life, everything,” James said. “We had a lot of conversation that’s just who we are, we talk all the time.”

The two of them have been friends since they were both high school stars, and they entered the NBA together. James was drafted straight out of high school and Anthony after a year at Syracuse. The NBA schedule keeps bringing them together at critical moments in their careers.

James’ first NBA home game came in 2003 against Anthony’s Nuggets. James had seven points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, but the Nuggets won. James’ first home game in his 2014 return to the Cavaliers was also against Anthony’s team — the Knicks. In that game, James scored 17 points with five rebounds and four assists.

This will be the first time they’ve faced each other where Anthony is a role player and not a focal point of his team.

“Once he gets in the game — whenever that may be — it’s going to be the same as always,” James said. “Just that brotherhood, just knowing how far we’ve come in our career to still be at this point in our career.

“But it won’t be strange. It was strange the first time I played against him when I was in a Heat uniform and he was in a Knick uniform. That was kind of strange. But after that, no. Other than that, it’s been pretty good.”

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Kendrick Lamar is Lakers’ latest guest during ‘genius series’

Luke Walton gathered his team after practice in the middle of the court to deliver a message the players needed after Thursday’s season-opening loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

He spoke about attention to detail and about making the most of their time — this after a long Friday session that focused heavily on defense.

What might have helped drive his message home was one Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper’s voice. On Friday morning, Kendrick Lamar spoke to the Lakers as part of their “genius series,” through which the Lakers’ front office aims to expose their players to high achievers in different fields. He spoke about his preparation for shows and for recording albums, and how he shields himself from negativity before performing.

“He talked about accountability, guys that hold him accountable in his own profession, whether he’s doing a show, whether he’s in the booth working on a song or working on an album,” Lakers guard Josh Hart said. “When he’s working on a album before it comes out, six months before he starts working on it, he starts getting into that mind-set of how he wants the dialogue to go, how he wants the listener to react. Stuff like that.

“Obviously we’re not getting in the booth and laying down some bars. I think some of us can. But it’s the mind-set that we have to get into. It’s the mind-set of doing our roles, to sacrifice for the greater quality of the team.”

As the Lakers play their first home game of the season Saturday against the Houston Rockets, and LeBron James makes his Staples Center debut in a game that counts, the Lakers hope to take another step toward cohesion, chemistry and proper defense.

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LeBron James has made Lakers’ ticket prices higher than the Warriors’

LeBron James' arrival to the Lakers makes tickets to their games the most expensive in the NBA to buy on the secondary market.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Want to buy a ticket to see LeBron James and the Lakers play James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at Staples Center?

Good luck. The Lakers’ home opener is sold out.

Want to buy Lakers season tickets? Good luck. Those are gone too.

If a fan wants to see the Lakers play in person this season, they’d better be prepared to shell out some big dough to buy tickets on the secondary market.

“Where you are going to see the greatest impact on ticketing, not attendance, is going to be in the secondary market, because that’s where the impact of LeBron is going to be most felt.” said Tim Harris, the Lakers’ president of business operations and chief operating officer.

Ticket prices on the secondary market went up 71% for James’ home debut compared to last season, according to TickPick, a no-fee ticket marketplace. The average price for the game against the Rockets is $526.73.

The average price for the Lakers’ opener against the Clippers last year was $235. Currently, the “get-in” price for the cheapest ticket in the 300 level is $229 for the game against the Rockets.

Tickets to Lakers home games are up 20% from last season and have an NBA-high average purchase price of $285.48.

Jack Slingland, the director of client relations for TickPick, said the most expensive tickets they have listed would be center court in Section 101, from $2,500 up to $7,000.

He said it’s 19% more expensive to see the Lakers on the road this season, with an average price of $490, which is more than it costs to see an away game involving the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

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