PHOENIX – Dallas Mavericks forward Marquese Chriss followed the Suns Center Bismack Biyombo off the field and through the tunnel after the pair were knocked out late in Phoenix’s win of Game 5 of 110-80 on Tuesday night, causing security staff to sprint after Chriss and pull him out before the clash.
With a Suns 28 lead of 2.3 seconds to go, Chriss fouled Biyombo in a lob game. Biyombo turned to approach Chris, and Chriss pushed his hand away.
Referee David Guthrie awarded each player a technical foul and dismissed them after a short procedure. Biyombo exited the field through the appropriate tunnel, heading for the Suns locker room. Chriss went through the same tunnel soon after. He was supposed to exit through a tunnel on the opposite side of the field, which led to the locker room for visitors. Chriss was certainly familiar with the difference in the two routes, as he played the first two seasons of his career in Phoenix from 2016 to ’18.
Several members of the security staff of both teams, as well as the Dallas Auxiliary Center Boban Marjanovićfollowed Chris in an effort to prevent further incident.
Not long after, Chriss was escorted back through the tunnel and ushered towards the other end of the field into the Mavs locker room.
“I understand the competitiveness of the game, but we’re just trying to win,” Suns coach Monty Williams said after the game. “All the things that are happening are extracurricular, I have nothing to say about it. I understand how chippy it can be. We just want to win the game and that’s it. We’re trying to get another win, and that’s our focus right now.”
Chriss and Biyombo did not speak to reporters after that.
Prior to the elimination, Biyombo was a valued contribution from the bench, and Phoenix outscored Dallas by 20 in 21 minutes as he played. Biyombo, who joined the team on a 10-day contract in early January before signing a contract for the rest of the season, finished with seven points with a 3-for-5 shot and seven rebounds.
Biyombo won the DNP in two of the first four games of the series.
“It’s just a decision,” Williams said of the rotation change, allocating the lion’s share of minutes to the Biyombou Reserve Center instead JaVale McGee. “You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. But when we looked at some of the games and the energy that ‘Biz’ brings into the game … we just felt like [his] energy would allow us to make energy games.
“He didn’t delight you with scoring and things like that, but with his attention to detail, his ability to play with multiple efforts in defense and then he can end up around the basket, he’s tough.”
With Biyombo thrown out, Suns forward Cameron Johnson entered the game to take free throws that Biyombo would award after Chris’s foul. According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, Johnson hit both and gave the Suns a final 30 points difference, marking their fifth post-season 30-point win in franchise history, including the second consecutive playoffs in which they achieved that feat.
The Suns are leading the Western Conference semi-final series 3-2 over the Mavs, with a chance to finish Thursday in Dallas and advance to the conference finals for the second season in a row.