Things got heated between Luka Doncic and Devin Booker on Sunday afternoon in Dallas.
The two, right after Doncic missed what would have been a game-tying layup with just 3.1 seconds left at the American Airlines Center, suddenly squared up and got into a brief altercation on the court.
Now, it didn’t seem too tense between Doncic and Booker. The two were seen smiling throughout the incident, but both ended up receiving technical fouls.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) March 5, 2023
Devin Booker & Luka Doncic getting into it late in Mavs-Suns 👀 pic.twitter.com/MKM8UhnvXY
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Doncic’s missed layup eventually resulted in the Mavericks losing to the Phoenix Suns, 130-126.
Booker downplayed the incident after the game, saying he was speaking to the referee before he got face to face with Doncic.
“You guys say you don’t want everybody to be friendly-friendly,” Booker said, via AZCentral’s Duane Rankin. “There you go, we got some smoke … It’s just two competitors going at it. Everybody speaks on how friendly the NBA is right now and don’t like that. I have no problem with Luka on or off the court, but when we’re competing, we’re competing.”
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 5, 2023
Booker finished the night with 36 points and 10 assists. Only Kevin Durant, who was playing in just his third game with the Suns after being traded there by the Brooklyn Nets, scored more. He dropped 37 points with seven rebounds and three assists.
Doncic led the Mavericks with 34 points and nine rebounds, but went just 1-of-9 from behind the arc. Kyrie Irving added 30 points and seven assists.
Though the incident between Booker and Doncic doesn’t matter much, it shows how things have been between the two clubs in recent months — something that seems to have started with the Mavericks’ upset win in the playoffs last year to reach the Western Conference finals. And sure, the Suns won in the end. But the two teams were in a tight battle the entire way through. Neither team led by more than nine points, and Dallas led through most of the second half up until the end.
As for the trash talk between he and Booker, Doncic doesn’t have an issue with it.
“Next time, don’t wait until there’s 3 seconds left to talk,” he said, via the Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend.
Things are extremely tight in the Western Conference standings entering the final stretch of the season. Phoenix sits at fourth in the West while Dallas is seventh. But the teams are separated by just three games in the standings.
It's unclear if these teams will meet in the playoffs again. If they do, however, expect another contentious series in what has become one of the best new rivalries.