Kings defend Lyles’ actions in late-game scuffle vs. Bucks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SACRAMENTO — The Kings didn’t go down quietly Monday night at Golden 1 Center.
With 15 seconds to play and the Milwaukee Bucks leading Sacramento by eight points, superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo stepped in front of Kings forward Trey Lyles while dribbling out the clock.
Lyles didn’t appreciate that gesture. He fouled Antetokounmpo and gave the two-time NBA MVP a shove, which promoted Bucks center Brook Lopez to step in.
Lopez and Lyles went after it in front of a sold-out crowd in Sacramento while teammates rushed to their defenses. Both players were ejected for the exchange.
Although Lyles instigated the contact, Kings players defended their teammate following the 133-124 loss.
“Giannis can just dribble the ball out,” guard De’Aaron Fox said. “That’s all he had to do, and nothing would have happened.”
Lyles saw it play out similarly.
“I think Fox said it pretty well,” Lyles told reporters in the Kings locker room [via Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson]. “It could have been avoided if he just dribbled it out. If you watch, I’m just walking back with my head down. He crossed in front of me.
“… He sold it a bit. It was nothing personal.”
Lopez had Lyles in a headlock as Kings center Domantas Sabonis attempted to muscle his way between the two players.
“We have our teammate’s back,” Sabonis said. “Trey didn’t like what was happening. We’re all there for him, you know?”
It was a physical game from the opening tip. Antetokounmpo bullied his way to 46 points with many of those scored in the paint.
Lopez, who logged 23 points and eight rebounds, clearly wasn’t happy when the game had to be paused with 5:07 remaining because his face was bleeding. His discontent for the Kings continued after the whistle.
“I thought what that guy did to Giannis was cheap,” Lopez said after the game [via Mark Haynes]. “He didn’t need to do any of that stuff. He stepped up to Giannis a little bit as he walked off and I didn’t like that. I had my guy’s back like I would have any of my teammates.”
Lyles doesn’t get mixed up with other players often. He only has one other ejection in his eight-year career – as a rookie with the Utah Jazz for an altercation with Channing Frye.
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Lyles now owns three technical fouls this season, which ranks fourth on the Kings behind De’Aaron Fox (11), Malik Monk (4) and Terence Davis (4).
“It takes a lot for me to get out of character,” Lyles said. “I’m just not going to go for that.
“A lot of people probably say it was cheap since it was at the end of the game. It’s at the end of the game — then why initiate it? If you’re going to do that, then you need to be ready for the repercussions of it.
“I’m not saying it’s right by any means, but what happened is what happened.”
The NBA likely will announce Tuesday if there is any discipline via fines or suspension for Lyles and Lopez.