Phoenix’s Bismack Biyombo and Dallas’ Marquese Chriss were involved in a heated exchange towards the end of the Suns’ 110-80 playoff victory over the Mavericks on Tuesday night. Both men were ejected after tussling with each other on court and Chriss then followed Biyombo as he made his way towards the Suns’ locker room. TV cameras showed security officials going into the tunnel to make sure the players couldn’t get at each other after leaving the court. Dallas’ 7ft 3in center, Boban Marjanovic, also joined security staff in attempting to defuse the situation.
Biyombo and Chriss did not talk to reporters after the game but Suns coach Monty Williams said he did not want his team to be distracted from winning the series.
“I get the competitiveness of the game, but we’re just trying to win the game,” Williams said. “All the stuff that happens that’s extra curricular, I don’t have anything to say about that. I understand how chippy it can be. We just want to win the game and that’s it. We’re trying to get one more win, and that’s our focus right now.”
During the game, the top-seeded Suns looked much more like their old selves on Tuesday night. All-Star guard Devin Booker said a little time in front of the TV with Williams did wonders.
“We study film,” Booker said. “Coach is coming in with adjustments, we make them and we follow them.”
Booker scored 28 points, Deandre Ayton added 20 and the Suns pulled away for a lopsided win over the Mavericks to earn a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Suns bounced back after dropping the previous two games and can win the series in Game 6 on Thursday in Dallas. It won’t be easy: The home team has won the first five games of this series.
The Suns used a huge third quarter to turn a tight game into a comfortable win. Phoenix opened up the second half on an 11-4 run, highlighted by Booker’s two three-pointers, for a 61-50 lead, and never looked back.
At times, the Dallas offense regressed to mostly watching Luka Doncic try and work magic, but he couldn’t do it all by himself. The Mavs had 12 turnovers during the third quarter.
“The defense tonight that’s the backbone of our program,” said Williams, who was announced as the Coach of the Year on Monday.
Doncic finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, but acknowledged that the offense bogged down at times. Jalen Brunson added 21 points. The Mavs shot just 38% from the field.
“The one thing we didn’t do great today was our pace,” Doncic said. “In the last two games, our pace was very good. I think they are one of the best defensive teams, if not the best, in the NBA. They held us to 80. That’s pretty impressive. We’ve got to move the ball and have better pace faster.”
Before the game, Suns guard Chris Paul wore a shirt with an image of Brittney Griner, the basketball player currently being held in Russia over allegations she bought cannabis oil into the country.
In Tuesday’s other game, Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Max Strus added 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Miami moved one win away from a trip to the Eastern Conference finals by topping Philadelphia.
Victor Oladipo scored 13 for Miami, which got 12 from Bam Adebayo and 10 apiece from Tyler Herro and PJ Tucker. The top-seeded Heat now lead the East semifinal series 3-2, and improved to an NBA-best 6-0 at home in these playoffs.
Joel Embiid scored 17 points for fourth-seeded Philadelphia, who got 14 from James Harden and 12 from Tobias Harris. The 76ers were down by 15 going into the fourth, then gave up 12 consecutive points to open the final quarter.
Game 6 is in Philadelphia on Thursday.