Dillon Brooks has been at war with LeBron James this series but this time he took it a bit too far. The Memphis Grizzlies forward got ejected from Game 3 of the Lakers-Grizzlies playoffs after he hit James in the groin in the third quarter of the Lakers 111-101 game in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Brooks has been trash-talking for a while and specifically calling out James. However, this time he was punished for hitting the NBA's all-time leading scorer, which proved costly for his team during Saturday night's game. The Lakers now hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round series.
Hitting Below the Belt
The 27-year-old Grizzlies guard, who called the 38-year-old James "old" earlier in the series, was given a flagrant 2 foul for the shot and was ejected from the game.
Brooks was being booed by Lakers supporters every time he touched the ball and he got aggressive. He fouled James while defending him near midcourt just 17 seconds into the second half and James immediately collapsed in apparent pain.
James writhed on the court and needed a couple of minutes before getting back onto his feet.
Officials decided to throw Brooks out after a brief video review, sparking a wild celebration in the Los Angeles bleachers for the misfortune of the despised Grizzlies forward.
James, who finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, managed to stay in the game and emerged the winner.
"I didn't make a statement," James said after the Lakers' Game 3 win. "I've been doing this too long. I'm not making any statements. We had the opportunity to come home and play well on our home floor, and we did that. No statement was made. We just wanted to play well, and we got a win. I don't need to make statements."
Having the Last Laugh
Brooks, on the other hand, only managed seven points before being dismissed. The Grizzlies were unable to quite close the distance due to their terrible start, but they never gave up and were led by Ja Morant.
Morant scored a game-high 45 points in his injury comeback, including a stretch of 22 straight points for the Grizzlies.
Los Angeles is up 2-1 in the series.
After the game on Saturday, Brooks avoided talking to the media. All Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins could say when asked about Brooks' dismissal was, "Officials made a call."
Before the start of the game, James reacted angrily to Brooks' assertion that he was past his peak.
"I'm not here for the bullsât," James said, according to ESPN. "I'm ready to play and that's it."
The Grizzlies upset the Lakers 103-93, James scored 28 points, but he was 1-8 from 3-point range, and the Lakers were outscored by 17 points while he was in the game.
After Memphis triumphed on Wednesday, Brooks was unflinching in his assessment of James' current state of play.
"I don't care â he's old. You know what I mean?" Brooks asked. "I was waiting for that. I was expecting him to do that Game 4, Game 5. He wanted to say something when I got my fourth foul. He should have been saying that earlier on. But I poke bears. I don't respect no one until they come and give me 40."