During Game 3 of the NBA playoffs between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, Dillon Brooks was ejected for hitting LeBron James in the groin.
The incident happened early in the third quarter, when James was dribbling the ball up court and Brooks swung his open hand into James’ lower region, causing him to fall to the floor in pain. The referees reviewed the play and determined that Brooks had committed a flagrant foul 2, which is defined as “unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent.” This resulted in Brooks’ automatic ejection from the game and a free throw and possession for the Lakers.
Brooks’ ejection was a huge blow for the Grizzlies, who were already trailing by a large margin after a disastrous first quarter. Brooks is one of their best players and defenders, averaging 18.5 points per game in the regular season and 21.5 points per game in the first two games of the series. He also had been trash-talking James throughout the series, calling him “old” and saying he didn’t respect him. Without Brooks, the Grizzlies lacked firepower and intensity, and could not stop James and Anthony Davis from dominating the game. The Lakers won 111-101 and took a 2-1 lead in the series.
The only bright spot for the Grizzlies was Ja Morant, who returned from a sprained ankle that sidelined him for Game 2. Morant put on a spectacular performance, scoring a game-high 45 points, including 22 straight for his team at one point. He showed his explosiveness, creativity and resilience, despite being double-teamed and fouled repeatedly by the Lakers. Morant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 40 or more points in a playoff game.
The question now is whether Brooks will face any further consequences for his actions. According to sources, Brooks will not be suspended for Game 4, but he will likely receive a hefty fine from the league. Brooks did not speak to the media after Game 3, but his coach Taylor Jenkins said “Officials made a call” when asked about his ejection. James also did not comment on Brooks’ hit, but he did praise Morant for his performance.
The Lakers and Grizzlies will face off again on Monday night for Game 4. The Lakers will try to extend their lead and move closer to advancing to the second round, while the Grizzlies will try to bounce back and even the series. It will be interesting to see how Brooks and James interact on the court, and whether there will be any more drama or tension between them.