Lakers forward Jordan Hill charged with assault
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill faces a felony assault charge after his girlfriend accused him of choking and shoving her in Houston earlier this year.
Hill is charged with assaulting 28-year-old Darlene Luna on Feb. 29 at his apartment while the New York Knicks' former first-round draft pick was playing for the Houston Rockets. Luna told police that the two had been dating for about two years.
The 24-year-old Hill was charged by Harris County prosecutors in March, and he has a court appearance scheduled for Tuesday in Houston.
The charge could affect a remarkable recent rise by the 6-foot-10 Hill, who has contributed valuable minutes off the bench for the Lakers in three straight games after arriving March 15 in a trade for Derek Fisher. Hill had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers' 103-88 series-opening victory over Denver on Sunday.
"I'm saddened to learn of the accusations that were filed against me," Hill said Monday in a statement issued by the Lakers. "At this time, I cannot comment further, other than to say that my attorneys are working to gather all of the facts and evidence and I plan to cooperate completely with the authorities.
"I'd like to apologize to the Lakers organization and to all of their fans for the untimeliness of these accusations. I promise to keep my focus and attention on the playoffs during this time and to (help) my team win another championship."
Hill played for Houston from February 2010 until the March trade. Hill was the eighth overall pick in the 2009 draft by New York but never panned out for the Knicks or Rockets, playing in just 32 games this season for Houston.
After going nearly a month between appearances for the Lakers before mid-April, Hill has earned an improbable spot in Los Angeles' rotation heading into the playoffs over the past two weeks.
He had his biggest game April 22, contributing 14 points and a career high-tying 15 rebounds while playing 35 minutes after Metta World Peace's ejection from the Lakers' double-overtime win over Oklahoma City.
Hill leapfrogged fellow forwards Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts in coach Mike Brown's rotation with that performance, and his energy in the playoff opener helped minimize the absence of World Peace, who is suspended for five more games for viciously elbowing James Harden.
Shortly after news of the charges broke Monday, Hill posted on his Twitter account: "Wowwwww," and "Unbelievable!!!!!!"
The Lakers' public relations department issued a brief statement about the charges.
"We are aware of the media reports alleging an incident involving Jordan Hill from two months ago when he was a member of the Houston Rockets," the statement said. "We do not have any details regarding these reports and therefore, as well as due to the personal and legal aspects, it would not be appropriate for us to comment."