PHOENIX — Lakers guard Patrick Beverley was ejected for shoving Suns center Deandre Ayton to the floor late in Los Angeles’ 115-105 loss on Tuesday, but the longtime veteran said his actions were prompted by how Phoenix players were treating L.A. swingman Austin Reaves.
“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.
With 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Suns up 106-96, Devin Booker was called for a shooting foul on Reaves, making contact with the second-year player then standing over him and staring at him while Reaves was on the floor. Then Ayton stood over Reaves, at which point Beverley ran several steps and body checked Ayton with his left shoulder when the Suns big man wasn’t looking.
“I’m not going for that s—,” 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. I’m a foxhole guy.
“Very unfortunate situation, though.”
After a video review, Booker was assessed a flagrant foul 1 for his hit on Reaves, Beverley was assessed a technical foul and ejected, and Ayton also was T’d up.
“I really didn’t see much after I got hit in the nose,” Reaves said. “I thought I was bleeding, so I was on the ground. And when I did turnaround, I saw Pat have my back, which I love. Everybody on the team … is the same way. If it was him, we would’ve done the same thing for him.”
Reaves said he had already told Beverley that he appreciated him “four or five times” from the end of the game to the time that Reaves spoke to reporters.
“He’s a team player,” Reaves said. “He rocks with who he rocks with. Whoever is on his team, you respect him. You love him. You’re glad he’s on your team. When he’s not, he’s a pest, does all that stuff, all those little things. But I just respect him for who he is and standing up for me.”
The Suns didn’t share the same appreciation.
“I just think the league needs to take a look at those kinds of plays; they’re just unnecessary,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “It’s just getting silly. That’s the only word I can come up with.”
Ayton said he made sure to keep his composure after the incident.
“He ain’t hurt me, he didn’t take nothing out of my pocket and I ain’t react,” he said.
Booker suggested it wasn’t the first time he has seen Beverley use a cheap shot in a game.
“Pat needs to stop pushing people in the back,” Booker said during his on-court interview after the game as part of the TNT broadcast. “Push them in the chest. That’s all I got to say.”
When informed of Booker’s comments, Beverley said: “I’m not going back and forth with all of that.”
The altercation grabbed the spotlight from an otherworldly effort from Anthony Davis to try to keep L.A.’s three-game winning streak intact as LeBron James (groin) sat for a fifth straight outing. Davis finished with 37 points on 11-for-17 shooting and 15-for-16 from the free throw line, 21 rebounds, five steals and five blocks to become the first player in league history to notch at least 35 points, 20 rebounds, five steals and five blocks in a game.
Davis also confronted Ayton after Beverley shoved the Phoenix center.
“We’re never going to let anyone stand over our teammate or make them feel like they’re not a man,” Davis said. “That’s disrespectful.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham suggested that the league could levy further discipline against Beverley, but Ham was OK with the spirit of Beverley’s action.
“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. “He’s there protecting his teammate, and I’m sure he’ll probably go through some type of consequence for that.
“But at the end of the day, that’s what we have to be as Lakers: We got to be together.”
When asked if he was concerned about the NBA punishing him, Beverley said, “for sure,” but added he would accept any fallout from the altercation.
“Very unprofessional by myself. Definitely could have reacted in a different way,” he said. “So, yeah, I’m a big boy. I’ll take my lumps however they come.”