The Suns left the Staples Center on Tuesday night with a 114-104 win over the Lakers, but Phoenix’s leading scorer wasn’t on the floor to celebrate the victory.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter of that contest, All-Star guard Devin Booker got hit with back-to-back technical fouls, forcing him to take an early walk to the locker room. The ejection happened so quickly that even TNT’s Brian Anderson and Jim Jackson were initially confused as to why Booker was leaving the court.
Anderson revisited the play later in the broadcast to provide viewers with a clearer picture of what went down.
“So LeBron [James] is fouled by [Deandre] Ayton. That’s called by [referee] Tyler Ford,” Anderson said. “He immediately T’s up Booker. Booker throws the ball to [officiating crew chief] Marc Davis, then he gets a quick T by [referee] Justin Van Duyne, who throws him out.”
In a postgame interview with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Davis offered more detail on the sequence of events:
McMenamin: Why was Devin Booker ejected?
Davis: Booker received his first technical foul for continuous complaining and then he received his second technical foul, and as per rule was ejected, for directing profane language at a game official.
McMenamin: Why did Justin Van Duyne assess a second technical foul after Tyler Ford called the first one and was already walking away from the play?
Davis: For directing profane language at a game official.
Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters during his postgame availability that he hadn’t received any sort of explanation in real time, but he also didn’t care because his team “had to move on.”
“I saw talking. I saw back and forth, and to be honest with you, I didn’t need an explanation,” Williams said. “For us to be the team that we need to be, can be, we’ve got to be able to handle those moments even when they don’t go our way. And that’s what I had to do, had to move on and get Cam Johnson into the game and go to the next play.”
Phoenix held a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but it managed to outscore Los Angeles 28-21 in the final frame without Booker to secure the win. Booker finished with 17 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes.