As Monday’s playoff game had totally gotten away from Utah, Jazz center Hassan Whiteside let his frustrations boil overLuka at the expense of Dallas Mavericks superstar point guard Luka Doncic.

With the Mavs owning a commanding 89-65 lead with 5:33 remaining, Doncic came flying down the middle of the lane and was about to hammer home a dunk that would have brought the American Airlines Center sellout crowd of 20,577 to its feet. Whiteside, however, darted into the picture and met Doncic at the rim and blocked his shot, then grabbed him and violently pushed Doncic to the floor.

That started a skirmish where Doncic’s teammates who were in the game, coach Jason Kidd, assistant coaches and security from both teams, AAC security and the game’s referees all were trying to break up things before they could escalate. When the smoke cleared, Whiteside was issued two technical fouls and an automatic ejection from the game, Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith was charged with a technical foul, and Mavs forward Reggie Bullock also received a technical foul. And since he was tagged with a technical in the third quarter, Bullock additionally was ejected from the game.

In the postgame press conference, Doncic described the whole sequence as “nothing,” then added, “It’s the playoff, man. There’s going to always be attention, but it was nothing.

Dorian“I tried to dunk it and wasn’t successful. But it’s the playoffs, man. These things happen in the playoffs.”

But when these things happen to the Mavs’ Most Valuable Player, these things take on a whole new meaning. Which is why Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber, Finney-Smith and Bullock rushed to Doncic’s defense, if for no other reason than to make sure he didn’t do anything to get himself suspended from Game 6, which will be Thursday at 9 p.m. in Salt Lake City.

Finney-Smith was the first Mavs player on the scene of the scuffle to get between Doncic and Whiteside, and Bullock was the second player.

“I really just saw Luka take a bad fall and (Whiteside) stood over him, so I just ran over there and was just trying to protect my teammate,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s playoff basketball. It was a hard foul, but I just got to make sure (Doncic was) straight, that’s all.”

Other than the Mavs embarrassing the Jazz at the time, Doncic said he didn’t notice anything that would have led Whiteside to level such a hard foul against him, then push him to the floor, which started the scuffle.

“I just saw our team basically backing up one of our guys,” Brunson said. “I don’t have a problem with it.

“I saw what you saw. All I know is when Luka went down I saw pretty much the four guys around him ready to help him up.”Liuka

As the Mavs took a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series with Monday’s 102-77 victory, Doncic appreciates his teammates playing the role of a traffic cop.

“It’s amazing man,” said Doncic, referring to Bullock and Finney-Smith. “They had my back. Both of them.

“We had each other’s back, and that’s what a great team does. Like I said, I will go with these guys to war, and this is a special team.”

Doncic said he will pay whatever fines – if any – the NBA charges Bullock and Finney-Smith.

Mavs assistant coach Sean Sweeney also was in the middle — with his hands spread – trying to separate the Mavs players from the Jazz players. “But nobody saw him because he’s tiny,” Doncic said with a laugh. “But I saw he was in the middle.”

Kidd said he didn’t really see what happened on the play in question.

“I didn’t have my glasses on, so I couldn’t really see,” Kidd said. “I was just trying to get my guys who had the right uniform on out of there.”

LukaKidd added that hard fouls are the order of the day when so much is at stake.

“This is the playoffs, everybody is excited, everybody is fighting for an inch,” he said. “This is not a big deal.

“This series has been physical and chippy. This is the way playoff basketball can be at times.”

Since Doncic tagged Utah with 33 points, 13 rebounds and five assists Monday — while showing that he was clearly the best player on the court — Finney-Smith noted it was no surprise that the Jazz were going to try and do something to unnerve the Mavs’ premier producer.

“We know they’re going to try to hit Luka,” Finney-Smith said. “They also been hitting JB (Jalen Brunson) lately, too.

“We just got to protect ourselves, protect each other and win games. That’s what it’s all about.”

BRIEFLY: Some pretty high-power quarterbacks were in attendance Monday, including Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Arizona Cardinals signal-caller Kyler Murray, and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein also had a courtside seat. . .A funny thing happened late in the second quarter. When Jalen Brunson was fouled and went to the free throw line, the fans started chanted MVP, MVP, MVP. A short time later, Luka Doncic was fouled and went to the free throw line and the fansLuka started chanting MVP, MVP, MVP. The fans also serenaded Doncic when be blocked a three-point attempt by Jordan Clarkson and followed that up with back-to-back three-pointers. “It’s amazing,” Doncic said. “It’s those kind of feelings you can’t describe. The whole arena is cheering for your team. It’s unbelievable. I think the fans were amazing today. They helped us get this win. If it’s not for them, maybe we don’t get this win. They pushed us up every time. We were tired. A lot of guys were tired, but they pushed us up and I just want to thank them.”. .In the third quarter, the Jazz scored only 19 points. It’s the same amount of points Doncic scored in the third quarter.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Share and comment

More Mavs News