PHOENIX -- Dallas Mavericks forward Marquese Chriss followed Suns center Bismack Biyombo off the court and through the tunnel after the pair were ejected late in Phoenix's 110-80 Game 5 win on Tuesday night, causing security personnel to sprint after Chriss and retrieve him before a confrontation could occur.
With the Suns leading by 28 with 2.3 seconds remaining, Chriss fouled Biyombo on a lob play. Biyombo turned around to approach Chriss, and Chriss pushed his arm away.
Referee David Guthrie assessed each player a technical foul and summarily ejected them. Biyombo exited the court through the proper tunnel, heading toward the Suns' locker room. Chriss followed through the same tunnel shortly thereafter. He was supposed to exit through the tunnel on the opposite side of the court, leading to the visitors locker room. Chriss was surely familiar with the difference in the two routes, having played the first two seasons of his career in Phoenix from 2016 to 2018.
Several members of both teams' security staffs, as well as Dallas backup center Boban Marjanovic, followed after Chriss in an effort to prevent further incident.
Not long after, Chriss was escorted back through the tunnel and ushered toward the other end of the court to the Mavs' locker room.
"I get the competitiveness of the game, but we're just trying to win the game," Suns coach Monty Williams said after the game. "All the stuff that happens that's extracurricular, I don't have anything to say about that. I understand how chippy it can be. We just want to win the game and that's it. We're trying to get one more win, and that's our focus right now."
Chriss and Biyombo did not speak to reporters after the game, but Biyombo spoke to reporters Wednesday following the Suns' evening practice at American Airlines Center in Dallas and explained the sequence leading up to the ejection.
With about 30 seconds remaining, Biyombo and Chriss jostled for a rebound, and with the game already out of reach for the Mavs, Biyombo thought Chriss was playing with unnecessary aggression.
"I think I said, 'Well, there's 30 seconds on the clock, is there a need for this?' So, I said, 'I'll box you out then,'" Biyombo said. "[Play] all the way to the end and that's what he was trying to do. I think that's understandable. It's the playoffs. So, I tried to do the same thing."
Not long after, Biyombo went up for the lob dunk, which could be seen as running up the score, when he was fouled by Chriss. Biyombo said he was ready to shrug off the contact until Chriss talked trash.
"I was walking away from all that, the hard foul and what not," Biyombo said. "But then he said something that I'd rather not disclose because it's basketball, a game, we got to respect the fans and the environment we're in. And I just had to step back and ask him a question, like, exactly why would he say something like that? You know?
"But I don't think it was a necessity to run in the back and try to chase me and try to fight me. I'm not that kind of guy. I have my limits and I'd be happy to provide some more contacts and meet him whenever he wants to.
"But no, I'm just joking, you guys."
Biyombo said he was unaware at first that Chriss had followed him off the court.
"I didn't know until I heard security screaming and yelling. I said, 'Oh, man,'" Biyombo said. "But again, this is basketball. I'd rather talk about the game tomorrow than waste my energy on some nonsense, and I think that is nonsense because at the end of the day, we didn't try to foul them hard when they were trying to score the ball in the last second of the game and we were losing bad [in Dallas].
"So, who cares? This is the playoffs. We're supposed to compete and that's exactly what we're going to do [Thursday]."
Prior to the ejection, Biyombo was a valued contributor off the bench, with Phoenix outscoring Dallas by 20 in the 21 minutes he played. Biyombo, who joined the team on a 10-day contract in early January before signing a deal for the remainder of the season, finished with seven points on 3-for-5 shooting and seven rebounds.
Biyombo received DNPs in two of the first four games of the series.
"It's just a decision," Williams said of the rotation change, assigning the lion's share of the backup center minutes to Biyombo rather than JaVale McGee. "You don't know how it's going to work out. But when we looked at some of the matchups and the energy that 'Biz' brings to the game ... we just felt like [his] energy would allow for us to make energy plays.
"He didn't wow you with scoring and that kind of thing, but his attention to detail, his ability to play with multiple efforts on defense and then he can finish around the basket, he's tough."
With Biyombo ejected, Suns forward Cameron Johnson subbed into the game to take the free throws that Biyombo would have been awarded from the foul by Chriss. Johnson hit both to give the Suns their final 30-point margin, marking the fifth 30-point postseason win in franchise history, including the second straight playoffs in which they achieved the feat, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
The Suns lead the Western Conference semifinal series 3-2 over the Mavs, with a chance to close out Thursday in Dallas and advance to the conference finals for the second straight season.