Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard got into a heated exchange Tuesday night (Oct. 28), when the Lakers legend was hit with an elbow throw by the Rockets big man during the Houston Rockets opener against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

The verbal altercation erupted after Howard grabbed a rebound and Kobe got in his face, trying to contest an outlet pass. Howard then threw elbows to clear space, and one connected with Bryant’s chin. After, the two immediately began exchanging works before being separated.

“He elbowed me in the face, and I’m gonna let him know, I don’t like that,” Bryant said after the game. “It’s that simple.”

After a review, Bryant was handed a personal foul and Howard a flagrant foul 1, and each player was tagged with a technical foul.

“That’s the game,” Kobe also said. “That’s all part of the game. Elbows are a part of the game. Trash-talking is part of the game. I don’t know where the NBA became so sensitive. It’s all part of it.”

If you read his lips, Kobe repeatedly called Howard “soft.”

The Houston Rockets would end up taking a 108-90 win at Staples Center.