Friday, March 24 2023

Late in Monday’s win over Utah, television cameras showed rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. and second-year guard Jalen Green engaged in what appeared to be a heated exchange on Houston’s bench. Both players downplayed the incident postgame.

“We were just competing, ironing some things out, like what coverage we were going to be in,” Smith said of the timeout discussion, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “That was it.”

“Nothing at all,” Green said of the incident, as relayed by Adam Spolane of Sports Radio 610. “It’s gonna happen, heat of the moment. All that matters is we got out there and finished the game.”

Context is important. At the time, tensions were high with Houston searching for its first win of the regular season and clinging to a 2-point lead with under 30 seconds left. Both Green and Smith are competitors. Arguments and disagreements aren’t rare in the NBA.

It’s also worth noting that Smith immediately made four consecutive free throws, following the exchange, to secure the game. So, whatever happened surely didn’t seem to rattle the rookie on the court.

If it continues to happen in the future, perhaps it’s something for fans to worry about, in regards to clashing personalities. For now, it appears to be a clear outlier with no lingering hard feelings.

“He’s super talented and has the gifts to be a two-way player,” Green said of Smith, who had 21 points and 9 rebounds on efficient shooting during Monday’s victory. “He’s so long and can guard any position, and at the same time, he can shoot the ball.”


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