It didn’t take Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell long to respond after Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks hit him around the groin area.
After Brooks missed a layup in the third quarter Thursday night, with Mitchell grabbing the rebound and receiving the jab from Brooks, the Cavaliers star threw the ball back at Brooks. Then, a cluster of players from the two teams gathered and started shoving underneath the basket.
Both Brooks and Mitchell were ejected as a result of the scuffle.
Brooks has spent his entire career with Memphis and has averaged 15.4 points per game throughout the 2022-23 season, though Thursday night was not the first time he had made headlines for an ejection — or a cheap shot. In last year’s playoffs, Brooks was ejected in the early minutes of Game 2 against the Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals. Gary Payton drove toward the basket for a layup in transition, and Brooks slapped Payton’s upper body while he was in the air.
Earlier this season, Brooks got in a shouting match with former NFL tight end and current Fox Sports personality Shannon Sharpe, who was sitting court-side during a Grizzlies-Lakers game. Multiple players from both teams subsequently came together, and Sharpe had to be separated from Grizzlies star Ja Morant’s father during the altercation.
Payton fell toward the ground in pain. He left the game that night with a left elbow injury and didn’t return in Golden State’s loss.
The Cavaliers defeated Memphis, 128-113, on Thursday night to keep hold of their playoff position in the Eastern Conference while knocking off the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed entering the night. Mitchell had only recorded six points on 2-for-11 shooting before his ejection, while Brooks recorded nine points — with five coming via free throws.
Mitchell has averaged 27.6 points per game for Cleveland this season, his first with the team after the Cavaliers acquired him from the Jazz in September. He had been a target of the Knicks before that trade.
Within the last 10 days, Mitchell reportedly dealt with groin tightness that resulted from the final play of a Jan. 24 loss to the Knicks, when New York center Isaiah Hartenstein blocked his last-second shot that would have forced overtime.