As the Lakers were wrapping up their Game 3 victory over the Phoenix Suns, things finally reached a boiling point between the two teams, who have had just about enough of each other already. Dennis Schröder and Devin Booker had been talking trash back and forth all game, and as the clock wound down towards an inevitable Lakers win, Booker got physical, shoving Schröder as he knifed into the lane to attempt a layup.
Schröder, off-balance and mid-air, was then knocked the rest of the way to the ground by Suns forward Jae Crowder. He responded by doing knuckle pushups as Booker and Crowder were ejected. Booker would have fouled out anyway, but was assessed a Flagrant 2 for not coming anywhere close to making a play on the ball.
Here is video of the exchange:
Devin Booker gets ejected after a hard foul on Dennis Schroder pic.twitter.com/6N5kTATsdp— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 28, 2021
After the game, multiple members of the Lakers called out Booker’s cheap shot as uncalled for:
“Can’t happen… that’s a dirty play”— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 28, 2021
Anthony Davis on Devin Booker getting ejected for pushing Dennis Schroder pic.twitter.com/daRLhLD91Q
LeBron tells @DanWoikeSports that he thought Devin Booker's foul on Dennis Schröder "wasn't a basketball play. Anytime someone gets airborne, shoving them like that can be very dangerous."— We Believe Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 28, 2021
For his part, Schröder said that plays like that are just part of the playoffs, but added that he thinks Booker would be suspended if he had done this in a regular season game, and implied that he felt the foul was a result of Booker being “too sensitive” over the trash talk the two were exchanging:
I asked Dennis Schroder if he likened one his roles with the Lakers to the trash-talking Jae Crowder and Cam Payne do for the Suns. His response, in which he said "at the end of the day" five times: pic.twitter.com/AcGossM7tX— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) May 28, 2021
Dennis is clearly not happy about Devin Booker's foul on him in the lane at the end of the game.— We Believe Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 28, 2021
"That wasn't a basketball play, and regular season, it's probably a suspension as well."
This now marks the second time in three games that the Lakers have felt like a foul the Suns committed crossed the line, with the first being Chris Paul’s “dangerous” undercut and arm pull of LeBron James. And it comes in the midst a series that has already seen Suns head coach Monty Williams publicly complain about the whistle his team is getting as Paul implies that referee Scott Foster and the NBA are rigging games against him.
Chris Paul redirected the end of his final three press conference questions tonight to the same stat: "11 games in a row." Paul's teams have lost 11 straight playoff games refereed by Scott Foster. pic.twitter.com/BvbZTGe3eX— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 28, 2021
"You're not going to get a fair whistle every game," Monty Williams said. Said you have to expect it when you're a young team that hasn't done anything.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 28, 2021
In short: Things are getting testy.
Will Booker get suspended? It seems unlikely, which to be fair, Schröder seemed to understand, given his comment on the situation. While Booker’s foul was dangerous and reckless, no one got hurt, and the outcome of the series shouldn’t tilt on frustrations boiling over.
If Booker takes a cheap shot again, that’s a different conversation, but for now, this just appears to be a bit of chippiness between two scrappy and physical teams. We’ll see if things calm down from here, but it seems unlikely. Get ready for a longer war of words — and more battles on the court — as this series continues.