During the Memphis Grizzlies‘ playoff run that ended with a defeat to the Lakers, Brooks earned a reputation as one of the league’s most hard-nosed defenders and one of the NBA’s most antagonizing characters.
He called the 38-year-old James ‘old’, dared the Lakers star to score 40 points and even struck him in the groin. Seven months on, after Brooks had vowed to ‘lock up’ James, the pair came face-to-face once more with a clip of their staredown going viral on social media.
James attempted to get the better of the matchup on several occasions, most notably when he tried to back Brooks up and overpower him in the paint. But the tussle continued throughout the game.
Although James may have won the individual battle as he ended the night with 18 points, six rebounds, and two assists compared to Brooks’ five, four, and one, Houston ultimately won the war by handing the Lakers a fifth straight road loss to start the season.
Lakers star LeBron James and Rockets’ Dillon Brooks reignited their feud in Houston’s win
The two players shared a face-to-face staredown from point blank range early in the night
Brooks and James developed a rivalry during last season’s Grizzles vs. Lakers playoff series
The 3-5 Lakers sit bottom of the Pacific Division, while the Rockets have now won four in a row for the first time since winning seven consecutive games in late 2021.
‘We’re taking the right steps,’ first year coach Ime Udoka said. ‘We’re confident in what we’re doing and it’s gelling quicker than probably some thought already.’
Houston was led offensively by Jalen Green scored 28 points despite only playing in three quarters of the lopsided win.
The Rockets scored the game’s first eight points and led by 21 at halftime. They didn’t let up after the break and were up by 20 midway through the third period before using an 11-5 run to make it 90-64 with three and half minutes left in the quarter.
Jabari Smith Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate made 3-pointers in that stretch to power the Rockets.
Green, who made five of six 3-pointers, got hot soon after that, scoring all of Houston’s points during a 10-5 run that left the Rockets up 99-71 entering the fourth. Most of the starters for both teams, including Green and James, didn’t play in the fourth with the game out of hand.
Rockets guard Jalen Green scored 28 points despite only playing three quarters in the win
The 21-year-old Green is excited to see Houston’s improvement in his third season after the Rockets were among the league’s worst teams in his first two years.
‘It´s a blessing,’ he said. ‘I’m just happy about it. I’ve been in a losing category for so long. So it’s good just to see the results and the progression that the team is doing.’
Rui Hachimura scored 24 off the bench in his return after missing four games with a concussion as the Lakers lost their third straight. D´Angelo Russell added 22 points and James had a season-low 18 in a game in which Los Angeles was without Anthony Davis, who sat out with a groin injury.
‘They’re going to be a handful to deal with this year,’ Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. ‘If they keep up at this rate, they’ll be a handful not just for us, but the other 28 teams besides us.’