Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins was lucky to escape without being ejected Friday night after a bizarre incident in which he ran to the ground in the middle of his team’s 127-113 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Jenkins, angered by an altercation between LeBron James and Jaren Jackson Jr., nearly collided with Taurean Prince, forcing the game to be abandoned.
Jenkins told the media after the game that he apologized to Lakers head coach Darvin Ham.
“You can’t do that, so I take full responsibility for it.” Jenkins said. “I saw a scuffle there, Jaren pinning LeBron, then I saw something that crossed the line… I had to stand up for my man.”
Midway through the third quarter, Marcus Smart tried to pass the ball to Jackson, who was posting up James. However, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was unable to control the ball, leading to a scramble between him and James, who eventually gained possession. However, afterward, James appeared to hit Jackson in the elbow/forearm in the face with a shudder.
The referees didn’t notice this in real time, but Jenkins did. During the game, he rushed the court, stopping the Lakers’ fast break, and was immediately assessed a technical foul. Even after the technical, he continued to yell at the referees, who turned to the monitor to review the situation.
After a brief review, officials decided not to impose any further penalties. Play resumed and Jackson, who finished the game with 31 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, remained in the game.
“That’s my dog,” Jackson said. “He’s been great all season. He’s been great since he’s been here. He’s persevered the whole time, and that’s exactly what he does. He is one of us, he is the coach of a player. He is with us in the cave, he is with us.” When push comes to shove, I expect nothing less. I already knew what he was planning to do. I could hear him when I was on the ground. I always know he has my back.”
With the win, the Grizzlies improved to 6-3 with Ja Morant on the season. However, with an overall record of 12-23, they are still five games out of 10th place and the final spot in the play-in tournament.