Russell Westbrook and PJ Washington ejected in Chippy Mavs win

DALLAS — Two heated confrontations during the fourth quarter of the Dallas Mavericks' 101-90 Game 3 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night led to two ejections and a boost to P.J. Washington's local popularity.

Washington, the power forward the Mavericks acquired at the trade deadline, was sacked along with Clippers guard Russell Westbrook with 6:10 remaining.

That confrontation began when Westbrook fouled Mavs star Luka Doncic by grabbing his right arm from behind and pulling it, pulling Doncic backwards. When Doncic approached Westbrook to object, Westbrook shoved him with his left arm. Washington and Westbrook then exchanged blows before other players, coaches, officials and security prevented the skirmish from escalating.

“We always have to protect 77 people at all costs,” Washington told ESPN. “So I mean it was obviously a huge mistake and then he pushed it, so I was there and had to intervene.”

Westbrook, who finished with one point on 0-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes, was called for two technical fouls and was ejected from a playoff game for the first time in his career. He left the American Airlines Center without speaking to the media.

“You have to keep your composure,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Things get volatile in the playoffs and everyone wants to play well and do well, but you've got to keep your composure no matter how the calls go. So we've got to be better than that in the long run when it comes to that.”

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Washington, who had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in the win, was also ejected after the whistle sounded for the second technical foul. His first goal came after a confrontation with Clippers guard Terrence Mann with 10:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.

In that instance, Washington immediately struck a distinctive pose amidst the players pushing and shoving, crossing his arms and staring at the Clippers' bench.

“[Mann] “I was mad because I was looking at the bench, so I decided to look at it again,” Washington told ESPN. “Just coming in and trying to set the tone.”

While Washington was exaggerating, Doncic stood by his side and smiled with pleasure. Washington kept a stony face.

“I wanted to get my pictures right after the game,” a smiling Washington said, referring to the moment as a photo opportunity.

Doncic, who scored 22 points, had 10 rebounds and nine assists despite describing his right knee as “really stiff” after it was injured late in the first quarter, expressed his appreciation for Washington’s willingness to serve as an enforcer.

“Amazing,” Doncic said. “The things he does make him a team player. He helps all of us. I'm very happy to have him on our team.”

Westbrook was also called for a flagrant foul 1 for hitting Dallas winger Josh Green in the head during a quick dunk attempt with 8:37 remaining in the second quarter. He was given a yellow card after reviewing Doncic in the final minute of the first half, but officials decided the incident did not merit any punishment.

“I'm used to it,” Doncic said of being exposed to more physical activity. “I'm just trying to stay calm and keep playing basketball.”

After the Mavs apologized for their lack of physicality in their Game 1 loss, they held the Clippers to 93 and 90 points in the past two games to take a 2-1 lead. Dallas coach Jason Kidd considered the friction that appeared in the fourth quarter typical of a physical series.

“We're all competing every inch to try to win,” Kidd said. “This series is going to be more mental as it goes on, just because of the physical aspect. It's very physical, but the mental aspect of this series, we have to be smart and we have to understand what's going on. I thought the guys did a great job of protecting each other.”

ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.

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