EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Brandon Ingram was relieved to receive a four-game suspension after expecting a harsher punishment from the NBA for his role in Saturday night's brawl between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
Ingram, who apologized to the team but said he had to protect his Lakers teammates, started the confrontation when he shoved James Harden and began arguing with referee Jason Phillips. Ingram drew the longest suspension of all the parties involved for returning to and escalating a scuffle between Rajon Rondo and Rockets guard Chris Paul, and throwing a punch that the league deemed "extremely aggressive."
Rondo received a three-game suspension for throwing punches and spitting at Paul, who drew a two-game suspension for poking at Rondo's face and throwing punches at him.
"Well, it was better than we expected," Ingram said at the Monday morning shootaround before the Lakers played the San Antonio Spurs. "I'm happy it's only four but I know I got to control my emotions a little better."
Rondo would not say what his view was on the league concluding that he spit at Paul.
"It's best for me not to talk about the situation," Rondo said when asked about the spitting. "It is what it is. You guys see I have three games. I look forward to getting back and helping my team this weekend."
Rondo was asked if he addressed his teammates about the incident and said he did not.
"Everyone knows who I am, my team," Rondo added. "And I think they still respect me for what I do and what I bring to this team."
LeBron James, who immediately played the role of peacemaker and tried to calm his good friend Paul and separate him from the fight, was asked if he was put in an awkward position between his new teammates and old friend.
"Nah. All I cared about what trying to get the thing over with, so we could get back to the game," James said. "That's all that was on my mind, at the end of the day. Just trying to separate the whole altercation. Help the referees out."
When asked if his relationship with Paul helped when it came to cooling the heated situation down, James joked, "Nah, it actually ... we're not friends anymore."
Lakers coach Luke Walton will start Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma in place of Rondo and Ingram. Ball, who had been eased back into action after undergoing surgery on a torn left meniscus, has been cleared of any minutes restriction, according to Walton.
Ingram and Rondo will begin serving their suspensions on Monday night. The Lakers then play at Phoenix, home against Denver and at San Antonio.
"It's my full responsibility," Ingram said. "I think I'm the one that caused action and I'm going to take full responsibility for every action that I did. A hundred percent that I was wrong for my teammates, but I also stepped up for my teammates and that is what I'm going to do 10 times out of 10."
"I think I had seen five Rockets players, two of our guys," Ingram added, describing what prompted him to run back into the scrum. "[That] told me to go back."
Walton, who has been trying to figure out rotations and lineups since the start of camp, now has to try to coach the Lakers (0-2) to their first win of the season without two of his starters.
"Next man up, let's go," Walton said. "We're going to need guys that haven't been playing to step in, be ready and confident and I believe they will be."