DALLAS – Devin Booker and Luka Doncic were at it again Sunday afternoon.
The two All-Stars added another chapter to their back-and-forth history late in Sunday’s Suns-Mavericks matchup that ended with Phoenix (36-29) pulling out a 130-126 comeback win at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
“You guys say you don’t want everybody to be friendly friendly,” said Booker, who was named Western Conference player of the week Monday. “There you go. We got some smoke.”
Doncic and Booker both chalked it up as two competitors in the heat of the moment, but Doncic left a parting shot that evokes memories of last year’s playoff series Dallas won in seven games over Phoenix.
“It’s fine, just a competitive game, man,” Doncic said. “It’s all good. Next time, don’t wait until it’s three seconds left to talk.”
With the Mavericks (33-32) down two after Kevin Durant’s contested basket over Tim Hardaway Jr. with 12.4 seconds left, Doncic had Josh Okogie on him at the top of the key with time expiring.
Doncic drove left, spun right, and got Okogie off him with his left forearm, but missed with his right hand right at the rim with 3.5 seconds remaining.
Durant rebounded the miss and screamed in celebration while Doncic started to put his hands in his face. Seconds later, Doncic got in Booker’s face and the two had to be separated.
“I’m not here to tattletale,” Booker said with a smile. “I was talking to the ref. He said something first, I responded.”
Suns coach Monty Williams alerted referee Curtis Blair of the Booker-Doncic flare-up while up the sidelines. Then Mavericks coach Jason Kidd appeared to ask Williams what happened.
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As the two were walking onto the court closer to the situation, Williams lunged at Kidd as he seemed to be demonstrating the interaction between Doncic and Booker.
Booker and Doncic received double technical fouls.
“I don’t think you can say that on camera,” Doncic said. “He was talking to me.”
When pressed about the exchange, a smiling Doncic said, “It’s not for TV. I would get fined. The NBA would fine me.”
Durant proceeded to hit both free throws for the game’s final two points to cap a game that saw Booker and Doncic go nose-to-nose near the end.
“Just two competitors going at it,” Booker said. “Everybody speaks on how friendly the NBA is now. They don’t like that. I have no problem with Luka on or off the court, but when we’re competing, we’re competing.”
Going back to last year’s playoffs, Booker had fun with Doncic during Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Phoenix won by 30 points at home to take a 3-2 series lead.
Fouled by Dorian Finney-Smith on a transition drive, Booker stayed on the floor, looked into the camera and said, “the Luka special,” before being helped up by teammates.
Going into Game 6 back in Dallas, Doncic was asked about Booker’s jab at him.
“I don’t really care,” Doncic said.
What Doncic openly took offense to was how he felt the Suns were acting late in that Game 5.
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As the Mavs were leaving the court after the loss, Doncic was captured on video by KNXV-TV ABC-15 in Phoenix saying, “everybody acts tough when they’re up.”
Doncic didn’t shy away from his comments before Game 6.
“When you’re up, everybody is trying to talk,” Doncic said. “A lot of guys who played there the last time, the last couple of minutes, after every shot, they looked at our bench. It was funny.”
The Mavericks proceeded to win Game 6 at home by 27 points and then destroyed the Suns, 123-90, in the decisive Game 7 in Phoenix to advance to the Western Conference finals.
The Suns were the top overall seed in the playoffs and won a franchise-record 64 games, but Dallas abruptly ended their season before a stunned sellout crowd of 17,071 at Footprint Center.
The two teams may very well face each other again in this year’s postseason.
Phoenix is fourth in the West and Dallas is seventh, but the two teams are just separated by three games.
They split their four regular-season matchups.
Phoenix and Dallas traded for two of the game’s best players in Durant and Irving, respectively, Irving right before the Feb. 9 trade deadline. Durant, Booker, Doncic and Irving each posted 30-point games Sunday.
Durant led all scorers with 37 and Booker posted 36. Doncic led the Mavs with 34 while Irving went for 30.
Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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