- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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HOUSTON -- The scene that came to symbolize the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff demise against the Dallas Mavericks was replayed at the end of the third quarter in the Lakers' eventual 107-104 loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday: Andrew Bynum stalked off the court after being ejected.
Bynum kept his shirt on this time around but did fit in the extracurricular activity of high-fiving a row of fans sitting courtside next to the Lakers' bench before a team security guard had to grab Bynum by the back of his jersey and guide him toward the locker room.
"I was irritated," Lakers coach Mike Brown said of Bynum picking up his second technical foul of the game with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter, resulting in his disqualification.
Bynum was whistled for his first technical foul with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter. Bynum argued with an official that he should have received a foul call for being hit on the arm on a missed shot when Rockets center Samuel Dalembert was credited with a block.
Bynum's second tech came while lined up at the foul line for two Marcus Camby free throws that came after a Bynum offensive foul on the opposite end put the Rockets on the line. Bynum said something to referee Monty McCutchen before McCutchen tossed him.
"He's got to figure out what he wants to do," Brown said. "You got to ask him what his response was to the ref when he had the interaction with the ref, but we need him on the floor. He, nor anybody else right now, can put themselves in jeopardy -- even if it was unjustified or not. That's not what I'm saying here. Nobody can put themselves in jeopardy to get themselves removed from the ballgame."
Bynum passed a pack of reporters on his way to the bus after the game and did not stop to speak about the ejection.
"I'll answer all questions tomorrow," Bynum said as he quickly made his way through a set of double doors.
Brown said he was told by an official what Bynum said to cause the second technical foul but would not divulge the explanation to the assembled media.
"I'm not going to tell you," Brown said. "If he said what the official said, then I guess [it was warranted]. That's up to the official. That type of stuff is subjective."
The Lakers led by six at the time of Bynum's ejection. The reigning Western Conference player of the week exited the game with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes. Without Bynum available, the Lakers were outscored 34-25 in the fourth quarter and outrebounded 15-7.
As for Bynum's detour to slap some fans' hands instead of following a direct route to the locker room, Brown seemed nonplussed.
"The league can take care of that," Brown said. "If he wants to do that, that's on him. I have no problem with it."
Brown said that to his knowledge, Bynum did not apologize to his teammates for his actions. Not that Bynum's teammates sounded like they expected an apology after the game.
"It happens," Metta World Peace said. "I wasn't really disappointed. I didn't really know what happened, so I couldn't really judge him at that point."
World Peace pointed out that L.A. was able to push its lead to 12 with 6:41 remaining in the fourth without Bynum on the court, basically absolving Bynum of the blame for the loss.
Much like he did last season when he said Bynum "earned his stripes" following a hit on Minnesota's Michael Beasley that resulted in a two-game suspension for the young center, Kobe Bryant defended Bynum's actions following the loss to Houston.
"It's a part of the game," Bryant said. "One of his big strengths is the chip on his shoulder that he plays with, so you can't expect him to have that one night and then knock him for it the next. I don't know what he said or anything like that, but I like the chip that he plays with."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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