Two Lakers, One Rocket Suspended For Fighting – ESPN Has Best Opening Week Rating Since 2014

Lakers Rockets
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

UPDATE:  The NBA has suspended Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram four games, Lakers guard Rajon Rondo three games, and Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul two games without pay after a fight in Saturday’s game.

The suspensions begin immediately. Paul will miss Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers play San Antonio on Monday.

Ingram was suspended for “aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden.”

The NBA confirmed that Rondo spit in Paul’s face and was suspended for “instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at Paul.”

Paul will forfeit $491,781 in salary, Rondo $186,206, and Ingram $158,817.

EARLIER: LeBron James’ home debut with the Los Angeles Lakers ended up being a memorable one Saturday, and not just because of King James. An on-court brawl in the pivotal final minutes of a close game between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets all but marred James’ debut, though ESPN won’t complain as the primetime game gave the network its best rating for an opening-week NBA matchup since 2014.

The game, which the Rockets eventually pulled away to win 124-115, scored a 2.5 metered market rating for ESPN, the highest-rated NBA regular season game on the network since April 2016 and its best early number for a Saturday game ever. It drew a stellar 3.7 rating in the Los Angeles market a.nd a 4.8 rating in Houston; the game spiked with a 2.9 during crunch time.

Three players were ejected in the brawl, which began when the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram shoved the Rockets’ James Harden. Houston’s Chris Paul and the Lakers’ Rajon Rondo soon traded swings; Ingram, Rondo and Paul were eventually tossed when order was restored. James, meanwhile, finished with 24 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Lakers are now 0-2 on the young season.

ESPN’s start to the NBA season has been solid, with its opening doubleheader Friday seeing gains year-over-year. Toronto’s victory over Boston drew a 1.5 metered market rating, while Golden State’s victory over Utah in the nightcap hit a 1.8.

James settling in Los Angeles has been the big story of the NBA season, and has translated into strong ratings already. The Lakers’ opening game Thursday — a loss at Portland — drew a 2.6 rating on TNT, up 63% in metered markets compared with the same game a year ago, when the Lakers faced the rival Clippers.

The Lakers resume play Monday but are off Tuesday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers open the World Series with Game 1 in Boston. The Dodgers clinched the spot in the Fall Classic for a second straight year with a 5-1 victory in Milwaukee on Saturday in a matchup that overlapped the Lakers-Rockets showdown.

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