Russell Westbrook's reunion with James Harden elevated expectations in Houston at the start of the season.

Another genuine superstar and MVP to partner Harden, at least on paper, rivalled the combinations of LeBron James-Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard-Paul George in the west.

There were definitely good signs after the Rockets opted to move on from Chris Paul and Clint Capela and switch to a 'small ball' strategy.

But Houston's season came to an end in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort, prompting the parting of ways between the Rockets and head coach Mike D'Antoni.

As the Rockets' wait for an NBA Finals appearance continues, we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.

 

Rockets make unwanted history

Houston have enjoyed a lot of regular-season success, but the same cannot be said in the playoffs.

This was the 14th consecutive season the Rockets finished at .500 or better but failed to reach the NBA Finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

Houston secured the fourth seed with a 44-28 record before falling to the Lakers in five games in the Orlando bubble.

The Rockets have not advanced to the NBA Finals since winning their last championship in 1995 – a sweep of the Orlando Magic.

There will be a new coach at the helm for their next Finals bid after D'Antoni's contract expired and the 69-year-old did not renew.

D'Antoni oversaw a 217-101 regular-season record in four campaigns in Houston, where the Rockets reached the Conference finals once and enjoyed three other trips to the semi-finals.

 

Harden and Westbrook enter record books

The Rockets gave up a lot to reunite former Thunder team-mates Harden and Westbrook – Houston parting with two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul for the nine-time All-Star.

Harden played his first three NBA seasons in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, helping the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals before joining the Rockets afterwards.

In their first season back together in Houston, Harden and Westbrook became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points and seven-plus assists per game in the same season.

Harden averaged 34.3 points and 7.5 assists, while Westbrook averaged 27.2 points and seven assists in 2019-20.

 

Harden continues to produce crazy numbers

There is just no stopping Harden in Houston. In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game.

It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

While Harden dazzled, Westbrook's struggles were evident in the playoffs this year.

Westbrook shot just 24.2 per cent from three-point range and 53.1 per cent from the free-throw line. He was the first player in NBA history to shoot under 25 per cent from three and under 60 per cent from the line in a single postseason (minimum 30 attempts in both categories).

The Rockets are usually at their best when Westbrook is not shooting a lot of threes – Houston had a 29-13 record when the 2017 MVP shot less than five from beyond the arc compared to 10-13 after attempting five or more.

Houston's whole offense revolves around three-pointers, and yet one of their main players does not shoot them well and they do not win much when he shoots a lot of them.

 

Small-ball disadvantage

Houston first experimented with 'small ball' while Capela was injured in January. Shortly afterwards, the Rockets opted to trade the center to the Atlanta Hawks.

All-in on the approach to help free up Harden and Westbrook, it led to a rebounding disadvantage, exposed in the playoffs. Their average rebound margin per game was minus-9.2, the worst by any team in a single postseason in which they played at least 12 games in the past 30 years.

The Lakers' Anthony Davis in particular was dominant against their small line-up, averaging 25.4 points and 12.4 rebounds while shooting 60 per cent from the field in the series against the Rockets.

During the regular season, Houston's average rebound margin was minus-3.4 in 2018-19 and minus-3.6 in 2019-20. Since the 1976-77 merger, there has never been a team to have a minus-3 or worse average rebound margin in the regular season and then go on to win the NBA title. In fact, only three of the 43 champions since the merger had a negative rebound margin in the regular season – the Rockets in 1993-94 (-0.3) and 1994-95 (-2.8) and the Miami Heat in 2012-13 (-1.5).

LeBron James and Anthony Davis were both named in the All-NBA First Team on Wednesday as the Los Angeles Lakers prepare to face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

The All-NBA selections were announced as the playoffs hot up in Orlando, although the Lakers duo were the only remaining members of the First Team.

James and Davis were joined by James Harden, whose Houston Rockets they beat in the second round, along with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

MVP candidates James and Antetokounmpo were both unanimous votes.

The Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard and playoff nemesis Nikola Jokic headlined the Second Team. Jokic led the Nuggets past the Clippers on Tuesday to complete another remarkable series fightback.

Damian Lillard was also included after carrying the Portland Trail Blazers into the postseason, alongside veteran Chris Paul, who impressed following his trade from the Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pascal Siakam - disappointing in the playoffs for defending champions the Toronto Raptors - made up the selection.

Meanwhile, in the Third Team, the Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum and the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler are both still alive as Eastern Conference Finals opponents.

Russell Westbrook, part of the Paul trade, got recognition, too, and was joined by Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons, the latter ending the season injured.

Russell Westbrook addressed getting into a shouting match with the brother of Rajon Rondo, saying people watching inside the bubble for the NBA playoffs are "supposed to shut your mouth and watch the game".

Westbrook's Rockets were knocked out of the Western Conference semi-finals in Orlando on Saturday after falling to a heavy 119-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5.

There was a flashpoint in the fourth quarter when Westbrook reacted to a comment from William Rondo, whose sibling later said he had called the Rockets star "trash".

"People at the game, you're supposed to shut your mouth and watch the game," Westbrook told reporters.

"That's the rules, especially when you have families and people here. Apparently, I guess because [Rajon] Rondo was talking s***, [William] decided he wanted to hop in, too.

"But it's okay. I mean, it's all good, I get it. He wanted to take up for his brother. But those rules stand for everybody, though, no matter who it is – family, whatever.

"He started talking crazy. I don't play that game."

James Harden said the situation was disappointing and added: "It affected us."

Guests inside the NBA bubble have been warned not to be verbally aggressive or enter the floor.

The incident saw William Rondo led away by security, but Rajon hopes his brother is not punished too heavily.

"He didn't do anything crazy," he said. "He called the man 'trash'. Fans do what fans do. He's my brother first. He didn't do anything disrespectful."

The defeat for the Rockets is sure to see speculation about the future of head coach Mike D'Antoni, whose contract is now expired, crank up.

D'Antoni has been linked with positions at the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers but hinted his desire is to remain in Houston.

"We've got a great organisation, great city, great fans, team's great," he said.

"I mean, everything's good here. We'll see what happens, but I couldn't ask for a better situation. I had four years and hopefully it keeps going. You just never know."

Anthony Davis and LeBron James starred as the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Houston Rockets 110-100 for a commanding lead in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Davis posted a double-double and James finished one assist shy of a triple-double to help the top-seeded Lakers move 3-1 clear in the NBA playoffs.

All-Star Davis put up 29 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4 at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, while James recorded 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

The Lakers led by as many as 23 points midway through the fourth quarter and looked on track for a blowout victory before the Rockets rallied.

Houston – who overcame a 3-1 deficit in the second round of the 2015 playoffs – put together a 18-2 run to close within 103-96 but the Lakers managed to hold in in Orlando, Florida.

Russell Westbrook led the Rockets with 25 points, and All-Star team-mate James Harden contributed 21 of his own.

Game 5 between the Lakers and Rockets is on Saturday.

 

Celtics face Raptors

It is a winner-takes-all showdown on Friday as the Boston Celtics and defending champions Toronto Raptors meet in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

LeBron James lavished praise on Russell Westbrook and James Harden as the Los Angeles Lakers look for a way to stop the key Houston Rockets duo in the NBA playoffs.

The Lakers and Rockets meet in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Friday, with James' team having overcome the Portland Trail Blazers in five games and Houston ousting the Oklahoma City Thunder in a series that went the distance.

Former Thunder pair Westbrook and Harden – both of whom have won league MVP awards during their careers – will clearly command the most attention from James and others on the Lakers defense.

Harden led the league when averaging 34.3 points in the regular season while Westbrook finished in the top 21 in the league for points, rebounds and assists.

"With James, it's how available he is to his team-mates - night in and night out," James told reporters.

"If you look at how many games he plays per year, and how many minutes he plays throughout the course of his career, pretty much he's always been available.

"He's always been in uniform and he's been doing this at a high level for a lot of years.

"That's what kind of gets lost in translation because everyone looks at Euro stepping and step-back threes, but when you're available to your team-mates, that's gigantic to any sport, any craft or anything that you're doing in life.

"If you're just available for someone they know they can always count on you. That's pretty much one of the best things that people don't recognise."

James has played with both Harden and Westbrook for the United States team and the three-time NBA champion admires the latter's approach when he is on the court.

"With Russ, he's just an assassin," James added.

"He's full-throttle and he could care less what anyone thinks about his game, he goes out and plays his way and he's been successful doing that.

"They're two great basketball players, two really good guys - great guys, more importantly. They just do what they do. They go out and they take care of their business and they pretty much don't care what anyone says about the way they play."

The Houston Rockets "can't play much worse" than they did in Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, said Mike D'Antoni.

The Thunder triumphed 104-100 on Monday to force a decisive Game 7 in the Western Conference first-round playoff series, with the Rockets paying the price for committing 22 turnovers.

With the scores locked at 98-98 heading into the final two minutes, Russell Westbrook twice gave possession away, airballed a jump shot and sent Danilo Gallinari to the line for the final points of the game.

Westbrook missed the start of the series with a thigh injury and he confirmed he will remain on a minutes restriction in Game 7.

D'Antoni said: "It's tough to come back right in the middle of a series when you've been out for three weeks, and also the whole lay off. He's fine, we'll be fine.

"We played about as bad as we could play. We will have to do a better job the day after tomorrow.

"We are going to respond. We'll clean up some things. We can't play much worse, so we'll play better.

"We just weren't sharp, got a bit careless a few times and we paid for it.

"We had 22 turnovers. You can't have 22. You try to get less than 10 and 22 just sealed our fate.

"Then we had some fouls that weren't disciplined. We had reach-in fouls that put them to the line and let them score, so things we can correct and will."

Asked why turnovers became an issue for the Rockets when it had not been earlier in the series, Westbrook said: "That's just my fault, honestly. That's easy. Last game I had zero, tonight I had seven. As simple as that.

"We've gotta take care of it, starting with myself. Just trying to figure out rhythm and timing, but we'll figure it out next game."

James Harden accounted for five of Houston's turnovers, which he felt undid the strong defensive performance they put in.

"A lot of careless turnovers. Including myself. Just too many turnovers, especially in a playoff game – a closeout game – just gave them too many opportunities," said Harden.

"I think defensively we did a pretty good job with them only scoring 104 points. We just shot ourselves in the foot by turning the ball over and giving us less opportunities to score."

James Harden lauded the Houston Rockets' display in Tuesday's 123-108 Western Conference first-round series-opening win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets were without injured star Russell Westbrook but still controlled proceedings in Orlando, where All-Star guard Harden contributed 37 points.

But Harden's focus was on the team performance as the Rockets issued an early statement of intent in the 2020 NBA playoffs.

"Our ball movement was excellent," he said. "We were just playing off the catch.

"Guys were just very confident in their shots. I think we had a lot of opportunities that we missed that were really good shots.

"We did a really good job of not turning the basketball over, which would've given them opportunities to get out in transition."

Jeff Green was also influential for Mike D'Antoni's team, scoring 22 points in his 32 minutes off the bench, during which the Rockets were +28.

Harden reserved special praise for Green and his ball-handling skills in particular.

"It's huge for us," said Harden. "Now I don't have to just dribble the basketball up. Those guards can kind of pressure me.

"He's able to dribble the ball up and get us in our offense."

Green added: "I'm just trying to find ways to impact the game, be that defensively or offensively.

"On the offensive end, we're playing together, and we're playing for each other. That's what's important, and that's how we're going to succeed."

The Houston Rockets remain uncertain when Russell Westbrook will return from injury as the NBA All-Star guard sat out Tuesday's Western Conference first-round series opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Westbrook's status for the Rockets-Thunder playoffs matchup was already up in the air due to the 2017 MVP's strained right quadriceps.

The nine-time All-Star sat out the final seeding game against the Philadelphia 76ers, having missed the loss to the Indiana Pacers prior to the postseason starting in Orlando, Florida.

Asked about Westbrook prior to Game 1 against the Thunder at Walt Disney World Resort, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said: "Can't rule anything out, but don't rule anything in."

Westbrook, who posted 20 points, six assists and five rebounds in the Rockets' defeat against the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month, had previously felt discomfort in his right quad.

He sat out back-to-back games after feeling soreness during a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on August 4.

A blockbuster acquisition from the Thunder, Westbrook has been averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game.

The Rockets – seeded fourth in the Western Conference – are eyeing their third NBA championship and first since 1995.

James Harden scored 49 points in a 153-149 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks, but it was the Houston Rockets' defensive effort that the former MVP wanted to highlight. 

Another fine offensive night from Harden saw him move past Calvin Murphy to become the player with the second-most points in the franchise's history, behind only Hakeem Olajuwon. 

With Russell Westbrook adding 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists too, it was a fine outing for Houston's leading duo, though Harden was quick to defer praise to the collective performance at the other end of the court. 

"It's not even about the points," Harden told ESPN on court after the game. 

"Our effort was there continuously throughout the course of the night against one of the best offenses in this league.

"They were going to be tough from the beginning of the game and we had to stay with it, even when we were down by double digits. We kept fighting, especially on the defensive end and forced overtime. 

"We wanted to stay with it and give ourselves a chance at the end of the game. We did that. Our confidence defensively was building, especially in that fourth quarter. We kept pushing the tempo, kept fighting." 

Luka Doncic had a triple-double for the Mavs - his NBA-leading 15th of the season - but went just one-for-nine from three-point range, while Trey Burke added 31 points from the bench having drained eight of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc. 

"We are a young team. We have got a lot to learn," Doncic said.  

"We will get better, for sure. I know we are going to get together when it matters most, so I'm not worried about that."

Houston Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook was on Wednesday cleared to practice for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19.

Westbrook arrived at the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida on Monday following two negative tests after announcing last week he had contracted the virus. 

"First of all, I'm just thankful and blessed to be able to go out and compete again," the 2017 MVP said while wearing a mask before Wednesday's practice.

"But, just quarantining at home, trying to be productive, obviously not able to get on the basketball floor, but finding ways to kind of stay active and do as much conditioning as I can probably do as far as that." 

Westbrook said he was in good shape before needing to quarantine, and his only symptom was a stuffy nose. 

Although he was able to still do some exercise while self-isolating, the nine-time All-Star urged everyone to take the proper safety precautions to protect themselves against the virus. 

"I'm not a doctor nor a specialist, but I do know that it's definitely something to take very seriously," he said. "To understand that wearing a mask can be [the difference] between life or death honestly ... there are people dying from this virus each and every day and it's something that we all need to take very, very seriously." 

In his first season with Houston after arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 31-year-old Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists prior the league being halted. 

The Rockets will resume their season against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31 and play their first exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. 

It is possible Westbrook could play in the first scrimmage if he and the team's medical staff determine he is healthy enough. 

Shaking off the rust, however, is Westbrook's top priority at the moment. 

"I have to see if I can make a layup at this point," he joked. "I got to start there and work my way from there."

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni is hopeful Russell Westbrook will be ready to play after joining his team-mates in the NBA bubble following his coronavirus diagnosis.

Westbrook tested positive for COVID-19 last week prior to Houston's departure for Orlando, where the 2019-20 season will resume via a 22-team format on July 30 after the league was halted in March due to the coronavirus crisis.

The 2017 MVP travelled to Walt Disney Resort on Monday, with the Rockets scheduled to restart their campaign against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31.

While Friday's scrimmage against defending champions the Toronto Raptors might be too soon for Westbrook, D'Antoni is confident the nine-time All-Star will be up to speed for the Mavericks clash.

"I do expect that once he clears everything that he'll be ready to go five-on-five and all that," D'Antoni said.

"I would think Friday might be a little early. That'll be up to the medical staff and Russell himself and see how he feels in the days before.

"Hopefully, he'll get in a couple of scrimmages and then be ready for us to play."

Westbrook – in his first season with the Rockets after arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder – was averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game prior the league's suspension.

D'Antoni added: "Any time you miss a key piece like that, it makes it a little bit more difficult, but I know he'll be ready. So on one side, we're just anxious to get him.

"It'll give everybody a little pep in their step, but there was no doubt before. The energy has been great. These guys have been practicing hard, so it's just one step closer to being whole. We can get him in there and work on a couple of things and get ready."

The Rockets are sixth in the Western Conference with a 40-24 record, nine and a half games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and five and a half adrift of the second-placed Los Angeles Clippers.

Russell Westbrook tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Houston Rockets' departure for Orlando, the former NBA MVP has revealed. 

Westbrook will join up with his team-mates for the resumption of the NBA season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida after a period of self-isolation. 

"I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my team's departure to Orlando," he wrote in a statement posted on social media. 

"I'm currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to re-joining my team-mates when I am cleared. 

"Thank you for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!" 

The league was suspended on March 11 amid the coronavirus pandemic but will continue from July 30 at its bubble site near Orlando, with all players being tested before travelling. 

Players returned to team facilities in June and were tested for COVID-19, with Nikola Jokic, DeAndre Jordan, Malcolm Brogdon and Jabari Parker among those to have contracted the virus. 

Figures released by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on July 2 said 25 of the 351 players tested between June 23-29 had returned positive results. It added that of the 884 staff members checked, there were 10 confirmed coronavirus cases. 

The Rockets will resume their campaign against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31.

Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, 7.0 assists and 8.0 rebounds for Houston - who acquired the 31-year-old via a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year - when the season was halted.

Russell Westbrook said it was "extremely humbling" to donate meals to healthcare workers fighting coronavirus at his local hospital.

Nurses at the intensive care and COVID units at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital were treated to meals from Los Angeles restaurant The Nice Guy.

Westbrook was born in Long Beach, California and played college basketball at UCLA before entering the NBA in 2008.

The 31-year-old, who was traded to the Houston Rockets before the 2019-20 season, has gone on to be named to nine All-Star Games and was voted the 2017 NBA MVP while with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Alongside an Instagram photo with the meals and nurses, Westbrook wrote: "Last night I helped provide meals to the nurses in the ICU & COVID Units at my hometown hospital, MLK Community Hospital.

"Extremely humbling to be able to do this and we appreciate all your hard work during this time. Thank you for all that you do!"

There have been over 1.6million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, where more than 97,000 people have died.

 
 
 
 
 

When he was a child, Russell Westbrook passed up the chance to meet Michael Jordan because he was too busy playing basketball.

Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, with whom he won six NBA championships, are back in public focus due to the new 10-part documentary 'The Last Dance'.

Houston Rockets guard Westbrook attended one of Jordan's basketball camps in his formative years and detailed how he snubbed the five-time NBA MVP.

"The first time I had an opportunity to meet Michael Jordan… I probably was about 10 or 11. I went to a Michael Jordan camp. My parents sent me to his camp in Santa Barbara," Westbrook told NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"At the end of the camp, usually every kid on every team brings something for Michael Jordan to sign. You need to stand in line and be ready to go.

"When my team was up to get a basketball signed — my parents gave me a basketball to get signed — I don't know why, I don't know what I was thinking, but when it was my team and my time to go, I was in the middle of a game. I was playing pickup with other kids.

"My coach was like, 'Come on, come on, come on. You're going to miss the opportunity to get a picture with Michael Jordan and an autograph with him.' Myself, I said, 'Don't worry, I'm okay, I don't need it right now.'

"So I didn't get a picture with Michael Jordan, didn't get an autograph. I literally didn't get in line. I just kept playing basketball, kept hooping.

"When camp was over and I got home, my mum and dad were like, 'Did you get the ball signed?' I literally was like, 'No, I was playing a pickup game.' At the time, it didn't click to me."

Westbrook's decision seemingly did not have any impact on their relationship as the Rockets star signed with the Jordan brand in 2013.

Eric Dier clambering over rows of seats to confront a fan after Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City was an extraordinary sight.

However, the spectacle was not without precedent, as sportspeople have come into conflict with supporters several times in the past.

While the 'professional' approach is to ignore the vitriol and insults that sometimes emanate from the crowd, there are occasions when instinct takes over.

With Dier likely facing punishment for his indiscretion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we take a look at other sports stars who chose the direct approach in dealing with troublesome fans.

CANTONA'S KUNG-FU KICK

It is possibly the most famous incident of its kind, perpetrated by a hot-headed Frenchman on a cold January night in London back in 1995.

Manchester United's Eric Cantona had just been sent off at Crystal Palace and was heading towards the tunnel when he heard a tirade of abuse from someone in attendance at Selhurst Park.

An incensed Cantona launched into a kung-fu kick, targeting Matthew Simmons – the man who, in his limited wisdom, had chosen to share his ill-considered views – before attempting to land a flurry of punches.

The Football Association banned Cantona for eight months, while he was sentenced to two weeks in jail – later reduced to 120 hours of community service – for his display of martial arts.

 

WESTBROOK READY TO THROW DOWN

Russell Westbrook stopped short of a physical altercation when he felt he had been subjected to some vile taunts during the Oklahoma City Thunders' win over the Utah Jazz last March.

The nine-time NBA All-Star, now with the Houston Rockets, was captured on film delivering an expletive-laden rant to a man and his wife, sat court-side at the Jazz's Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Westbrook snarled: "I'll f*** you up. You and your wife."

The Jazz issued a lifetime ban to one of the perpetrators for "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player".

Meanwhile, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA "for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan".

 

NO JOKE FOR STOKES

Ben Stokes uses controlled aggression very much to his advantage with bat and ball, but he let his anger get the better of him during a Test match in South Africa in January.

The England all-rounder was dismissed for two on the opening day at the Wanderers and was heard on a live broadcast aiming expletives at a spectator.

Stokes claimed to have been "subjected to repeated abuse", but later took to Twitter to say sorry for his "unprofessional" reaction.

He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council match referee.

 

MALICE AT THE PALACE

No, this isn't Cantona again, but it is arguably a more remarkable incident. The brawl that broke out between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in a 2004 NBA game was spectacular enough in itself, but then it got a whole lot crazier.

With the initial disorder beginning to calm, tensions flared again when a fan threw a drink at Pacers small forward Ron Artest, who made a beeline for his assailant. 

That prompted a wide-scale fracas involving players and spectators, with heavy sanctions for many involved.

The NBA dished out a combined 146-game ban for nine of the players, with five charged with assault, while five fans were hit by lifetime bans.

 

CLOUGH GETS TOUGH

Brian Clough was a notoriously no-nonsense football manager and he demonstrated that for all to see in memorable scenes at Nottingham Forest's City Ground in 1989.

With his Forest side having beaten QPR 5-2 to reach the last four of the League Cup, the home fans invaded the pitch to celebrate.

Clough, however, was in no mood to rejoice with them and instead chose to dish out a bit of rough justice, punching, slapping and grabbing anyone he could lay his hands on.

Two of his victims were later invited to the club for an apology – not from Clough, but for them to say sorry to him.

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