San Antonio Spurs forward Zach Collins was ejected from their 143-138 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night after he hit Russell Westbrook hard in the head, drawing blood and sparking a brief altercation in the lane at the AT&T Center.
Collins, late in the third quarter of the game, blocked Westbrook at the rim and hit him hard in the head — which sent Westbrook down to the court. Westbrook then immediately jumped up and charged at Collins. Before he could do much, though, LeBron James grabbed Westbrook and held him back.
Westbrook had blood streaking down his face as he walked back toward the Lakers bench.
After a review, Collins was hit with a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. Westbrook received a technical foul, and then left the game after shooting free throws for the locker room.
"I shouldn't have jumped on the pump fake, but I did,” Collins said, via the San Antonio Express News’ Tom Orsborn. “And then the worst thing you can do is give up an and-1 in that situation, so I was just trying to come down and hit his arm so the ball wouldn’t get up to the rim … Unfortunately, my elbow just caught his head and he started bleeding and it looked terrible, but I honestly wasn’t trying to do anything. I just didn’t want him to get a shot off."
Collins finished his night with 12 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. Westbrook later returned to the bench from the locker room and checked back into the game. The team said the cut on his head didn’t need any stitches. He finished the night with 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes.
James led the Lakers with 39 points and 11 rebounds in the win while shooting 7-of-12 from behind the arc. The win marked the fifth in six games for the Lakers, and their second straight over San Antonio.
“He takes a shot to the head, and you don’t wanna escalate the situation,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “You want to try to calm him down, you’ve got a guy with blood on his face who is understandably upset. Just having ‘Bron there, it shows a brotherhood that we need that type of image, that action, that belief in one another, we need that to represent us as a team and as a franchise.”