PHOENIX — Dallas Mavericks forward Marquese Chriss followed Suns center Bismack Biyombo off the court and through the tunnel after the pair were ejected late in Phoenix’s 110-80 Game 5 win on Tuesday night, causing security personnel to sprint after Chriss and retrieve him before a confrontation could occur.
With the Suns leading by 28 with 2.3 seconds remaining, Chriss fouled Biyombo on a lob play. Biyombo turned around to approach Chriss, and Chriss pushed his arm away.
Referee David Guthrie assessed each player a technical foul and summarily ejected them. Biyombo exited the court through the proper tunnel, heading toward the Suns’ locker room. Chriss followed through the same tunnel shortly thereafter. He was supposed to exit through the tunnel on the opposite side of the court, leading to the visitors locker room. Chriss was surely familiar with the difference in the two routes, having played the first two seasons of his career in Phoenix from 2016 to ’18.
Several members of both teams’ security staffs, as well as Dallas backup center Boban Marjanovic, followed after Chriss in an effort to prevent further incident.
Not long after, Chriss was escorted back through the tunnel and ushered toward the other end of the court to the Mavs’ locker room.
“I get the competitiveness of the game, but we’re just trying to win the game,” Suns coach Monty Williams said after the game. “All the stuff that happens that’s extracurricular, I don’t have anything to say about that. I understand how chippy it can be. We just want to win the game and that’s it. We’re trying to get one more win, and that’s our focus right now.”
Chriss and Biyombo did not speak to reporters afterward.
Prior to the ejection, Biyombo was a valued contributor off the bench, with Phoenix outscoring Dallas by 20 in the 21 minutes he played. Biyombo, who joined the team on a 10-day contract in early January before signing a deal for the remainder of the season, finished with seven points on 3-for-5 shooting and seven rebounds.
Biyombo received DNPs in two of the first four games of the series.
“It’s just a decision,” Williams said of the rotation change, assigning the lion’s share of the backup center minutes to Biyombo rather than JaVale McGee. “You don’t know how it’s going to work out. But when we looked at some of the matchups and the energy that ‘Biz’ brings to the game … we just felt like [his] energy would allow for us to make energy plays.
“He didn’t wow you with scoring and that kind of thing, but his attention to detail, his ability to play with multiple efforts on defense and then he can finish around the basket, he’s tough.”
With Biyombo ejected, Suns forward Cameron Johnson subbed into the game to take the free throws that Biyombo would have been awarded from the foul by Chriss. Johnson hit both to give the Suns their final 30-point margin, marking the fifth 30-point postseason win in franchise history, including the second straight playoffs in which they achieved the feat, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
The Suns lead the Western Conference semifinal series 3-2 over the Mavs, with a chance to close out Thursday in Dallas and advance to the conference finals for the second straight season.