- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
DALLAS -- If a deficit of more than 30 points in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals wasn't ugly enough for the Los Angeles Lakers, things got even uglier in the fourth quarter when two Lakers players were ejected for hits made against the Dallas Mavericks.
Not long after, once the Mavs' lead had grown to 100-68, 7-foot Lakers center Andrew Bynum was also thrown out of the game for a flagrant foul 2 for spearing an airborne J.J. Barea in the ribs with 8:21 remaining in the fourth when Barea was driving in the lane.
Bynum removed his jersey as he walked off the court and through a tunnel to the visitors locker room at American Airlines Center.
"We were getting embarrassed, they were breaking us down. So I just fouled somebody," Bynum said after the game. "I was just kind of salty about being embarrassed. ... For me, it was embarrassing to have the smallest guy on the court keep running down the lane and making shots."
Barea, listed at 6-0 and 175 pounds, somehow made the shot and came crashing down. He stayed on the court momentarily before getting up and, after an official timeout, returned and made the free throw.
"You guys saw it. I bet they put like 10 replays on TV so it was a pretty good hit," said Barea, who
scored a career-playoff high 22 points as part of an 86-point effort from the Mavs' bench. "I'm glad nothing really happened to me. I'm going to be a little sore tomorrow, but I'm just happy we got the win."
Mavs center Tyson Chandler called the incident "unfortunate."
"You hate to see that kind of stuff. It's one thing to play rough out there and play tough," he said. "I'm all for that, but the cheap shots are just uncalled for. We're all playing basketball. We're all doing something we love. I would think you would not want to see one of your fellow guys get hurt, and that's how it happens."
Odom's foul on Nowitzki came shortly after the Dallas forward swatted away a practice free throw attempt by Odom. His explanation echoed Bynum's.
"I was a little embarrassed," Odom said. "I went to fill the rim out [with the free throw attempt], they were already up 30 [when Nowitzki batted the ball away] and I didn't mean anything by it."
The Mavs kept their cool after both fouls and managed to keep players on the bench from reacting and running onto the court, which is penalized by an automatic suspension for the next game.
"They were disrespectful fouls, but it just showed their character," Mavs starting shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson said. "I think we kind of took their heart, especially winning on their court the first two games, and then coming in here playing the way we are, it made them frustrated. I don't think nobody ever played them like that. When people get frustrated, people show their real character."
Both Bynum's and Odom's infractions will be reviewed by the league office, and if a suspension is warranted, it will be served at the start of the 2011-12 season.
"I wasn't happy with the way our players exited the game on Lamar and Andrew's part. It was unnecessary, but I know they were frustrated and Barea was one of the guys that really frustrated us today," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Lakers co-captain Kobe Bryant also condemned the fouls.
"You don't want to see that happen," Bryant said. "You definitely don't want to see that happen. You don't want any of their players getting hurt. They played better than we did, so to make the game ugly like that where players could potentially get hurt, you don't want to see that happen ever. ... It's not something that you want to see happen in the game of basketball, ever."
Bynum was suspended for two games in March for committing a similar foul on Minnesota's Michael Beasley. The NBA weighs a player's discipline history when doling out a new suspension, so it is likely Bynum's hit on Barea will be for more than two games.
Lakers forward Ron Artest was suspended for Game 3 of this series for a hit to Barea's face with 24.4 seconds left in Game 2 with the game out of reach.
After Bynum's foul, a fan threw a plastic water bottle on the court, causing the public address announcer to warn that any objects thrown on the court would result in ejection from the arena.
The Mavericks completed the four-game sweep of the defending champions, winning Sunday's game 122-86.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan was used in this report.