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Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and Rockets’ Chris Paul will face each other for first time since brawl

Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and Rockets’ Chris Paul will face each other for first time since brawl
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, second from left, is being restrained by Lakers forward LeBron James, as Paul trades punches with Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, who's next to the referee on Oct. 20, 2018. Rondo and Paul were both ejected. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul will share the Staples Center court on Thursday night in their first meeting since they came to blows on Oct. 20 during the Lakers’ regular-season home opener.

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The contentious relationship between the two spilled over after Rondo spit in Paul’s face during the game. Paul responded by putting his finger in Rondo’s face. Rondo came back by throwing a left-hand punch to Paul’s face. The two then exchanged more blows before they were separated.

But that wasn’t the end of things for Paul, as Lakers forward Brandon Ingram came charging in from half court and threw punches at Paul.

The NBA stepped in the next day and suspended Ingram four games, Rondo three games and Paul two games for their roles in the incident.

When the Lakers played at Houston on Dec. 13, Rondo didn’t play because he was recovering from a fractured third metacarpal on his right hand. When the Lakers played at Houston on Jan. 19, Rondo didn’t play in that game because he was recovering from surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right ring finger.

Rondo didn’t talk to the media Wednesday, but Lakers coach Luke Walton said “I don’t think so” when asked whether he expects any spill-over between Rondo and Paul from that first game.

“I think this late in the season, both teams are more focused on more important things,” Walton said after practice. “It’s part of sports and not something that will take away from what we’re trying to get done tomorrow.”

Paul told reporters in Houston on Wednesday that he wasn’t focused on that past fight with Rondo.

“I forgot about it, know what I’m saying?” Paul said. “Once the fine goes out of your check, move on.”

Lakers seek improved health

The Lakers still aren’t completely healthy.

They have listed Josh Hart (tendinitis in right knee) and Mike Muscala (sprained right ankle) as probable for Thursday night’s game against the Rockets.

Hart received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee before the All-Star break on Feb. 11.

Backup Lakers center Tyson Chandler was listed as questionable because of a stiff neck. He didn’t practice Wednesday.

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And Lonzo Ball still is getting treatment on his Grade 3 left ankle sprain. He will not play against the Rockets.

Ball, who was injured Jan. 19 at Houston, was scheduled to be out four to six weeks. Saturday will mark the five-week timeframe for Ball.

UP NEXT

VS. HOUSTON

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 710, 1330.

Update: Houston’s James Harden leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 36.6 points per game. Harden has scored 30-plus points in 31 consecutive games, tying him with Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in NBA history. The Rockets take the most three-pointers (44.8) and make the most (15.6) in the league.

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