The Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the Phoenix Suns has taken an aggressive turn. Since game one, things have been dicey between the two sides. A LeBron James attempt at a putback resulted in Chris Paul colliding with a teammate and injuring his shoulder in game one. Later that same game, Paul grabbed at James’ arm and pulled him down while attempting to box out. In game two, an Anthony Davis jumper resulted in a kick to Jae Crowder’s groin. Crowder himself has been involved in several “playoff foul” kind of plays.
And in Thursday’s Lakers win in game three, a frustrated Devin Booker pushed the Lakers’ Dennis Schroder in the air, sending the diminutive point guard sprawling to the floor and giving Booker a head start to the showers after a flagrant two and ejection.
Unsurprisingly, Lakers players did not take too kindly to Booker’s gesture. Davis immediately spoke about it on the TNT broadcast after the game, saying that it was “not a basketball play” and calling it dangerous. Schroder himself went on a long tangent about disrespect, the danger of the play, and sent some shots towards Booker about getting “sensitive.”
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
Schroder also pointed out that in the regular season, the NBA may have looked at a suspension for Booker, which is probably a fair assessment of the situation. Of course, no one should expect the Suns’ All-Star to be suspended for this in such a high-stakes setting, but it is worth pointing out just how out of control the outburst was.
Booker was visibly frustrated all night, playing his worst game of the series as the Lakers continuously made him uncomfortable on both ends of the floor. Both Schroder and Wesley Matthews could be seen jawing back and forth with him and potentially getting under his skin.
More than anything, it feels like the Suns are losing their faith in the series. They have been pretty heavily outplayed since game one and with Paul hobbled, their chances of advancing seem to be diminishing pretty heavily. Between that and the Lakers bench clowning them for the entirety of the second half, it’s not really surprising that they would be angry. Booker just acted upon that anger in a dangerous way and got the appropriate punishment. The Lakers are appropriately angry about his response but when you see a team you have bad blood with so many times in a row in the playoffs, these kinds of things happen.
Now it’s up to the Lakers to channel that into game four to put a stranglehold on the series.