Things got heated quickly on Thursday night in Cleveland.
By the time things were settled, both Donovan Mitchell and Dillon Brooks were ejected after a brawl in the second half of the Cavaliers’ 128-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Midway through the third quarter at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Brooks had a layup blocked at the rim and was knocked to the ground. As he rolled over, his hand swung up and hit Mitchell in the groin. That prompted an immediate reaction from Mitchell, who had caught the blocked ball behind Brooks.
Mitchell immediately threw the ball at Brooks in retaliation. That sparked a significant brawl under the rim. Coaches and officials eventually got involved and finally got the players separated.
Brooks was even seen at one point tackling one of his own coaches to the ground, although that coach appeared to be trying to stop the fight.
After a lengthy review, Brooks was hit with a Flagrant 2 foul and was ejected. Mitchell was ejected for his role in the altercation, too.
Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff defended Mitchell after the game, calling what Brooks did a “cheap shot in multiple ways.”
“If someone makes a play like that, you have the right to stand up for yourself … We don’t have guys that start s**t, but we have guys who don’t run from s**t,” Bickerstaff said, via Locked On Cavs’ Evan Dammarell.
Mitchell didn’t hold back after the game, either.
“That’s just who he is. We’ve seen it a bunch in this league with him,” Mitchell said. “He and I have had our personal battles for years. Quite frankly, I’ve been busting his ass for years … There’s no place for that in the game. You have to protect yourself at the end of the day.”
Mitchell finished the night with six points after shooting 2-of-11 from the field. Brooks had nine points and two rebounds for Memphis.
Cleveland, after seeing its double-digit halftime lead cut down to a single point in the third quarter, held an 81-76 lead when the fight broke out. The Cavaliers then closed the quarter on a long 11-2 run, which immediately put them back in control of the game. From there they cruised to the 15-point win.
Darius Garland dropped 32 points with 11 assists to lead the Cavaliers in the win. Cedi Osman added 21 points off the bench, and Jarrett Allen finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Ja Morant finished just shy of a triple-double for Memphis. He put up 24 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Desmond Bane added 25 points after shooting 6-of-7 from behind the arc, too. The loss marked the Grizzlies’ seventh in their last eight games.
“It’s bulls**t if I’m being honest with you,” Mitchell said of Brooks. “It’s complete bulls**t to be honest with you. When you start doing cheap s**t like that, that ain’t it.”