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Anthony Davis defends Jarred Vanderbilt after Dillon Brooks episode

Over the last couple of years, Dillon Brooks, first with the Memphis Grizzlies and now with the Houston Rockets, has branded himself as one of the NBA’s biggest villains. Unlike some who have been branded as villains, Brooks truly loves playing such a role.

The Los Angeles Lakers got an up-close-and-personal look at Brooks and his tactics in the first round of the playoffs when he went at LeBron James more than once, not just verbally but also physically. On Monday, they played against him again, and this time, he made Jarred Vanderbilt his target.

Early in the second quarter, he fouled Vanderbilt on a dunk, and just moments later, he made contact with Vanderbilt again. The Lakers forward reacted by shoving Brooks, earning him a technical foul, and right afterward, he poked Brooks’ head, which led to him being ejected.

Anthony Davis had Vanderbilt’s back — he said after the game that the whole exchange was Brooks’ fault (h/t ESPN).

“He’s going for a wide-open dunk and [Brooks] just pushed him in the back,” Davis said. “It’s not a safe play. Guys get hurt like that. And you got to know what type of player [Brooks] is. [The referees] kind of let that just keep going on and [Brooks] kind of provoked it. He talks and says whatever he wants to the refs, to players and at the end of the day, we’re men. No man is going to talk towards another man the way he was talking to Vando. So, Vando did what he had to do.”

Davis even felt Brooks should’ve been ejected for his hard foul on Vanderbilt.

“I mean, you take a hard foul,” Davis said. “That’s part of basketball, but you are just not going to blatantly push someone in their back when they have no control of their body and they are in the air. And he should have gotten ejected for that. And then you know him and Bron have their [collision] and from what I saw, it was just a blatant hit to LeBron to his face.”

Later in the game, Brooks was assessed a flagrant foul for the hit to James’ face that Davis mentioned. But his initial foul on Vanderbilt was upheld as a common foul after the referees initiated a review.

Darvin Ham agreed with Davis

After the game, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham echoed Davis’ sentiment by suggesting Brooks should’ve been ejected for either of his hard fouls on Vanderbilt and James.

“Being competitive is one thing,” Ham said. “But … putting players at risk of injury with certain plays — I just watched it again [on video] before I came in here, [Brooks] pushes him in the back, a guy that’s in the air. Airborne, defenseless. Then Bron’s play, Bron goes to the basket and it’s a double move with his arms. One arm trying to deflect the ball and it goes back and then it goes across [James’] face.

“So maybe Dillon Brooks shouldn’t have been in the game, either.”

James was also asked about Brooks following the game, but James declined to comment.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire