If you missed Friday night's contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards at the Staples Center, you missed one of the most awkward fights in recent sports history. With less than three minutes left in the game, Lakers swingman Nick Young got tangled up with crusty old Wizards big man Drew Gooden, leading to scuffle that looked more like a poorly rehearsed segment of Dancing with the Stars.
Update: March 22 at 9:03 p.m. ET
Gooden earned a fine from the league for his arm-grabbing stunt, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver:
Video: NBA fines Wizards' Drew Gooden for 'clamping' arm of Lakers' Nick Young http://t.co/5zyFuQJVPC— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) March 23, 2014
---End of Update---
As a sideshow to that main event, L.A.'s Jordan Hill got into a bizarre bear-hugging match with Washington center Marcin Gortat. Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal rushed over to aid his teammate...until he realized their wasn't really any actual fighting going on.
Per the Washington Post's Michael Lee:
Bradley Beal had a hilarious reaction to the #wizards late-game skirmish with LAL. He ran to break up Marcin Gortat & Jordan Hill...until...— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) March 22, 2014
Such chippy play was surprising coming from the Lakers, who have already been eliminated from postseason contention.
The Wizards, on the other hand, were clearly venting frustration at having nearly blown a critical game. They're jockeying for playoff position in the Eastern Conference and have struggled on their West Coast trip.
Three days after last Saturday's statement win over the Brooklyn Nets, Washington traveled to Sacramento and suffered a humiliating loss to a bad Kings team. They then followed that up by dropping their second game of the road trip to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.
Against Los Angeles, the Wizards opened up a 20-point lead on the Lakers, only to let off the gas and watch passively as that lead shrank to just six in the third quarter.
The game followed a disturbingly familiar pattern for Washington, according to SB Nation's Umair Khan:
It's never easy is it? This should have been a bounce-back game to lift everyone's spirits, and frankly, a blowout before heading to Denver. But the Wizards did what they do best: resort to bad habits and play down to their opponents.
Not only did the Wizards play down to the Lakers, they also resorted to childish wrestling moves in the closing minutes. They will finish their Western Conference road trip on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets, another sub-.500 team. Here's hoping the Wizards will take that game a little more seriously.