It started as what appeared to be a routine play with 36 seconds left in the third quarter of the Lakers' 107-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon tried to block a shot by Lakers guard Nick Young as he attempted a layup. Brogdon swiped the side of Young's head in the process and then tensions spiraled.
Young flew at Brogdon and shoved him. Then Milwaukee's Greg Monroe took his own shot at Young's neck, and Young's teammates rose to his defense.
As these things tend to do, the incident energized the Lakers and their crowd. After two games in which Lakers Coach Luke Walton grew frustrated with the team's effort, they stayed close until the end against the lately surging Bucks.
"I think it just made us more competitive," Lakers forward Brandon Ingram said. "We wanted to take it to the guys but that's kind of how we've gotta start games. We want to have an identity like that. Try to do it in practice and bring it to the game."
Jordan Clarkson started at point guard for the Lakers and finished with 21 points, 10 of them in the fourth quarter. The Bucks' Khris Middleton led all scorers with 30 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 26 and eight rebounds before fouling out.
Ingram was part of the moment in the incident that infuriated Walton the most. A man in a suit, who appeared to be an employee of the Bucks, pushed Ingram as he appeared to try to break up the fight.
"The fact that they don't get in trouble for that, the refs don't say anything for that?" Walton said. "He puts his hands on one of our players. He works for them. He can touch their players all he wants. Don't touch my damn players. Because if that's OK, I'm sure we can find a couple people here in L.A. that want that job working for the Lakers, too."
By the end of it, Monroe, Young and D'Angelo Russell had all been ejected from the game with double technicals, Young for starting the fight and Monroe and Russell for escalating it. Walton said he wants an explanation for Russell's ejection.
"D'Angelo only responded after Monroe grabbed Nick by the neck and thrown him," Walton said.
"So if D'Angelo didn't push him, I would've been pissed off at him. He did the right thing. … You grab someone by the neck, that's not right. And then Monroe went and slapped Brandon. In the face. He did all that and he got the same penalty as what D'Angelo did for just shoving someone in the back."
Just 34.2 seconds after the fight, Jordan Clarkson made a three-pointer that cut the Lakers' deficit to seven heading into the fourth quarter. David Nwaba took a pass from Ingram and dunked with two hands over Matthew Dellavedova to start the final period.
With 4:54 left in the game, Clarkson made a three-pointer that brought the Lakers within six in a game they once trailed by 18.
The Lakers did get closer than that, and even had a chance in the game's final 10 seconds to steal a win.
With 7.9 seconds left in the game, Antetokounmpo committed his sixth foul. Julius Randle missed the first free throw and made the second, giving the Lakers one last desperate chance, down by three.
They fouled Brogdon with 5.7 seconds left in the game and he made both free throws, putting the Bucks ahead by five and the game just out of the Lakers' reach.
Russell finished the game with 14 points on five-for-nine shooting with two assists, two turnovers and two rebounds, but his numbers only told part of the story. He's come off the bench the last three games, and this was his best outing in that role. His coaches and front office had urged him to be more aggressive, and he made a point to do so.
"Just tried to do what I could do to stay relevant out there," Russell said.
As for his ejection, it confused him, too.