Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he was surprised by the NBA's decision to ban superstar team-mate LeBron James for the elbow that sparked wild scenes against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

James jostled with Pistons center Isaiah Stewart at a free throw, with the four-time MVP's left elbow connecting with the latter's face, leaving him bleeding from his right eye and incensed.

Stewart initially appeared calm but lost control, repeatedly charging at James for retribution on court, having to be restrained by team-mates and coaches in Detroit's 121-116 defeat.

The Pistons big man was handed a two-game suspension for his actions, but James was also slapped with a one-game ban for the first time in his illustrious 19-year NBA career after "recklessly hitting Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation".

"I was surprised," Davis told reporters after the Lakers went down 106-100 to the New York Knicks without James on Tuesday.

"I didn't think he was gonna get suspended. I don't think anyone thought he was gonna be suspended to be honest.

"It was an accident. He accidentally hit him in the face. The report came out and said his hit to the face caused an incident. He can't control how a guy is going to react.

"Guys get hit in the face all the time, we're saying that caused the incident? I get hit in my face, I probably won't hit anyone. If I go off and do all that, does the other guy get suspended? It was strange but nothing we can do about it."

Davis had his own drama on Tuesday, making a mad dash to arrive at Madison Square Garden less than an hour before tip-off due to illness, playing 34 minutes for 20 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Davis seemed a "little bit drained" although the NBA champion refused to blame that for the defeat which left the franchise 9-10.

"I don't use my illness as an excuse," Davis said. "I go out there and give it my all. I think we were tied in the fourth. we missed some shots."

After the Lakers fell short despite Russell Westbrook's triple-double, Davis added: "I just woke up not feeling well. Headache, flu symptoms, coughing, fever, body aching, everything. I was in my hotel waiting for my fever to break.

"It was a low-grade fever. I couldn't leave until my fever broke. My fever broke, got in the car and shot straight here. [I arrived] 46-48 minutes from the game clock. I got in and did as much as I can treatment wise, got dressed, went out to play."