While it was nowhere close to pretty, the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-1 series lead over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday thanks to great play from LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder.
Offensively, it was a mixed bag, but defense is where the Lakers really dominated, in part by holding Devin Booker to just 19 points.
Booker was 6-for-19 on the night, turning the ball over four times and committing six fouls, the last of which coming with about 30 seconds left. Fouling out in a guaranteed loss is usually not a big deal, but his sixth foul was a hard and unnecessary push — fueled by frustration — to a defenseless Schroder, who had just gone up for a jumper. After review, the foul was deemed a Flagrant 2 and Booker was automatically ejected.
No ruling has been made further in terms of a possible suspension, but Schroder had some words about the foul after the game.
“On the Devin Booker foul, end of the day, you’re competing and doing everything to get in people’s heads and whatever but that’s not a basketball play and I’m going to just leave it at that,” Schroder said.
Schroder spoke about the bigger picture of the series and how the Lakers’ physicality has put themselves in command the last two games.
“We got to play our game and just being physical as a hit-first mentality and be with them. … We got to hit first and I think that’s what we did tonight and was better from Game 2 to Game 3 and we got to get better each game and today we played great defense and we just got to keep building on that.”
Beyond just Booker, Jae Crowder also got ejected for sharing words with Schroder after the hard foul, something the Lakers guard said he would continue to do if approached first.
“At the end of the day, my mom raised me right. End of the day, when somebody talks to me first, I’m going to talk back and it don’t matter who it is. If somebody talks to me disrespectfully, I’m going to do the same thing. So end of the day, we gonna battle there. Nobody is going to disrespect me.
“End of the day, I just talk back and somebody took it too sensitive and he fouled me. But end of the day, if somebody talks, I love trash talking. If somebody talks to me, I’m going to talk back and we’re just going to compete on the highest level. We can do that. I’m always for that.”
Schroder has shown on several occasions this season that he’s not going to back down from confrontation. On Thursday, he did an incredible job talking and being himself while also staying poised and not doing anything worthy of a technical foul.
The final moments of Game 3 are certainly going to make for a chippy Game 4, and the Lakers — and Schroder — must be prepared for that.
Schroder believes Booker would’ve been suspended in regular season
In the moments following Booker throwing him to the ground, Schroder rolled over — seemingly in pain — then laughed it off to do some push-ups. He spoke about this moment and how Booker would like be suspended for his actions in the regular season.
“Yeah, it don’t matter. Like I said, that wasn’t a basketball play. In the regular season, that would probably be a suspension as well. Like I said, my mom did a great job raising me, and yeah. That’s it.”
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