Tim McMahonESPN Writer3 minute read
LOS ANGELES — Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks was granted an early release in Saturday’s Game 3 loss for pushing the Bear below the belt.
Brooks was called for flagrant foul 2 and was only ejected 17 seconds into the second half after slipping his left hand into LeBron James’ groin area as the Los Angeles star Lakers dribbling the ball down the field.
Brooks will not face a suspension or additional penalty for the foul after a review by the NBA, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league reviews all flagrant fouls.
It was Brooks’ third ejection this season, tying Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and Malik Monk of the Sacramento Kings for the most in 2022-23, including the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Another of Brooks’ ejections this season was for hitting Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell in the groin area in a loss on Feb. 2, which also resulted in Brooks being suspended for one game.
It was also the second career playoff ejection for Brooks. He committed a blatant 2 that injured Golden State’s Gary Payton II in Game 2 of last season’s Western Conference Semifinals and was suspended by the NBA for the next game.
“I’m not talking,” Brooks told ESPN as he stood outside the Grizzlies locker room following Saturday’s 111-101 loss.
After the Lakers took a 2-1 lead in the first-round series, Memphis star Ja Morant said he didn’t believe Brooks should have been sent off, but admitted he feared that the NBA decides to suspend him for Game 4 on Monday.
Joe Dumars, NBA executive vice president and head of basketball operations, cited Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green’s status as a “repeat offender” as a major factor in the decision to suspend Green for Game 3 against the Kings.
“With the way they’re treating Dillon, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was,” Morant said. “I felt like he got ejected because of past ejections that had been done in previous games. I mean, if you watch the game, he was actually looking for the ball and the crossover. LeBron is just went behind the back. Obviously he got hit somewhere that’s hard for a man. But flagrant 1? OK, but the ejection, I totally disagree with that.
James brushed off a question about the possibility of further disciplinary action against Brooks.
“I’m not on that committee,” said James, who approached Brooks before the game and had some choice words for him.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins, when asked about the play that led to Brooks’ ejection, simply replied, “Officials made a call.”
Brooks had been booed by the Crypto.com Arena crowd from his pregame routine more than an hour before the whistleblower. He drew the ire of Lakers fans with his trashy talk targeting James via the media following the Grizzlies’ Game 2 win at Memphis on Wednesday.
“I don’t care – he’s old. You know what I mean ? Brooks, 27, then said of James, 38. “I was expecting that. I expected him to do that game 4, game 5. He wanted to say something when I got my fourth foul. He should have said it earlier. But I’m pushing bears . I don’t don’t respect nobody until they come and give me 40.”
James scored 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting before Brooks was ejected. James finished with 25 points on 10 of 20 shooting, along with nine rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block.
Brooks had seven points on 3-of-13 shooting in 19 minutes.
“He’s been booed all season, so I don’t think that bothers him at all,” Morant said. “He actually embraces it and loves it. It fuels him, pretty much. It energizes him.
“You go out and play hard, and that’s just Dillon. He’s a great competitor. A lot of these teams, although they don’t like him, would love to have him on their team with the energy he has. brings and what he brings to the table.”