'We got smoke' – Booker no longer 'friendly-friendly' with Doncic's Mavericks after close Suns victory
Devin Booker admitted there is some extra feeling in the rivalry between his side and Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks after Kevin Durant hit the game-winner in the Phoenix Suns' 130-126 victory on Sunday.
In a star-studded showdown, Durant (37 points), Booker (36), Doncic (34) and Kyrie Irving (30) all eclipsed 30 points each, and the contest took on a playoff atmosphere in the second half.
The Suns were unceremoniously dumped out of last season's playoffs on their home floor by the Mavericks in a 123-90 Game 7 blowout, and the rivalry only grew stronger after Booker and Doncic went nose-to-nose in the final seconds on Sunday.
After Durant hit a mid-range pull-up to give the Suns a 128-126 lead with 12 seconds left, Doncic tried to answer and send it to overtime, but his uncontested layup somehow did not drop after discarding his defender.
Durant snatched down the rebound to seal the game, and Booker appeared to have words for Doncic about the miss, with the pair having to be separated.
When asked after the game about what was said, Booker claimed he was initially talking to the referee before Doncic directed a comment his way.
"I was talking to the ref – [Doncic] said something first so I responded," he said. "You guys say you don't want everyone to be friendly-friendly – there you go, we got some smoke.
"It's just two competitors going at it, like I just said, everyone speaks on how friendly the NBA is now, and don't like that. I've got no problem with Luka – on or off the court – but when we're competing, we're competing."
Doncic laughed at the notion Booker did not instigate the scuffle, and subtly referenced his own "everybody acting tough when they're up" comments from the playoffs by telling the Suns star to keep the same energy throughout the contest.
"Oh no, he was talking to me." he said. "It's not for TV, I would get fined, the NBA would fine me. Based on the words, I don't think [Booker was talking to the referee].
"It's fine, it's just a competitive game, it's all good – just next time don't wait until there's three seconds left to talk."
But Doncic also had plenty of nice things to say about his Western Conference rivals.
"They're incredible," he said. "After everything, those two guys are probably one of the best in the league – Book and KD – but I love it, it's competitive.
"I think today was a great game to watch, and they have an amazing team."