With just under four minutes remaining in the Suns‘ win over the Lakers on Tuesday night, Lakers guard Patrick Beverley and Suns center Deandre Ayton were involved in an on-court altercation that resulted in technical fouls for both players and an ejection for Beverley.
Following a Devin Booker foul on Austin Reaves that was ultimately ruled a Flagrant 1, Ayton grabbed the ball and stood over Reaves, who was down on the floor. Beverley shoved Ayton from behind, knocking him to the court and resulting in a brief skirmish between Lakers and Suns players (YouTube video link)
As Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes, Beverley explained to reporters after the game that he was looking out for his backcourt partner.
“Got a person on the ground, two people looking over mean-mugging and puffing their chest out and referees don’t get into it to kind of separate it, control the game, so I’m going to stand up for my teammate,” Beverley said. “… Obviously, it’s unfortunate that it happened on national TV. But you know me: Regardless of what’s going on, I’m a big fan of protecting my teammates. … I’m a foxhole guy. I put on the jersey, and I commit to a team, I commit to a city, and it’s kind of my motto.”
Beverley received postgame support from head coach Darvin Ham and several teammates, including Reaves himself, who said he told Beverley “four or five times” that he appreciated him. Ham acknowledged that Beverley will likely face NBA discipline for the incident, but said he wasn’t upset about his point guard’s reaction.
“Pat Bev, you don’t want just to be a tough man competition; you actually want to play tough basketball. But at the end of the day, I’m not mad at him,” Ham said, per McMenamin. “He’s there protecting his teammate, and I’m sure he’ll probably go through some type of consequence for that.”
At the very least, Beverley seems likely to be facing a fine of up to $50K for his actions. Chris Mannix of SI.com and Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter links) were among the reporters to suggest that a suspension isn’t out of the question, particularly since Beverley has a history of on-court chippiness.
Suns head coach Monty Williams told reporters during his postgame media session that “the league needs to take a look at those kinds of plays,” referring to them as “silly” and “unnecessary,” while Booker alluded to Beverley’s reputation in an on-court interview with TNT’s Chris Haynes after the game.
“Pat needs to stop pushing people in the back, man,” Booker said (video link). “Push them in the chest. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Neither the Lakers nor the Suns are back in action until Friday, so the NBA may decide to take a little time to determine what sort of penalty might be appropriate for Beverley and possibly other players involved in the altercation. Although the Lakers guard didn’t regret standing up for a teammate, he said he could have taken another approach to confronting Ayton and is bracing for some kind of league discipline.
“Very unprofessional by myself. Definitely could have reacted in a different way,” Beverley said, according to McMenamin. “So, yeah, I’m a big boy. I’ll take my lumps however they come.”