As the NBA gathers information for its investigation into the events surrounding the bombastic LA Clippers-Houston Rockets game on Monday night, forward Trevor Ariza has been further isolated as the person most responsible for the Rockets' postgame charge into the Clippers' locker room, league sources told ESPN.
Rockets All-Stars Chris Paul and James Harden are increasingly described as working to slow down Ariza's anger with the Clippers' Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin, league sources said.
Nevertheless, there are those on the Clippers' side who still insist that Paul -- in his return game after six turbulent seasons in Los Angeles -- eagerly entered the home locker room through a backdoor entrance with Ariza, Harden and teammate Gerald Green.
The Rockets players were filled with a greater animus for Rivers, sources told ESPN, because they insist that he had been especially belligerent from the bench in the late stages of the Clippers' victory. Out with an ankle injury and wearing a suit, Rivers was reveling in Griffin's dominant performance of 29 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Once Griffin became entangled with several Rockets, Rivers' verbiage appeared to become more aggressive.
Griffin unleashed on the Rockets in the final minutes of the game, brushing past Mike D'Antoni and inspiring the Rockets coach to scream "F--- you" at him. Griffin, as he was falling out of bounds, fired a loose ball off the back of Eric Gordon, and seconds later, he engaged in a skirmish with Ariza that led to double technical fouls and an ejection with 1 minute, 3 seconds left.
As the drama unfolded later, Rockets center Clint Capela walked down the main corridor and banged on the front entrance to the Clippers' locker room, league sources said. Soon, a Clippers staff member opened the door and looked up to see Capela, a formidable 6-foot-10 figure, standing in the doorway.