Three days after the Memphis Grizzlies guard went after LeBron James with some very loud Game 2 trash talk, the Lakers turned the first quarter of Game 3 into a historic bloodbath. After 12 minutes of play, the score stood at 35-9, a deficit the Grizzlies never came reasonably close to erasing.
Even with that first quarter, the low point came in the third when Brooks got himself ejected with a flagrant two foul for hitting James with a clear low blow. He finished the game with 7 points on 3-of-13 shooting in 19 minutes.
Flagrant 2 foul assessed to Dillon Brooks for hitting LeBron below the belt.
Brooks has been ejected from the game.pic.twitter.com/Grd03xXZyy
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 23, 2023
Per the ESPN broadcast, the Lakers were tied for the largest lead to end the first quarter in NBA playoffs history. It was also the lowest-scoring quarter for any team this season.
The stat sheet was bad all over for the Grizzlies in the quarter. As a team, they shot 3 of 25. Only one starter, the returning Ja Morant, made a field goal. There was one assist to six turnovers. Brooks had zero points on 0-for-4 shooting with one turnover at that point.
James finished the game with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while Anthony Davis had 31 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks.
To the Grizzlies' credit, they woke up in the second quarter and at least managed to get the game back into competitive territory. They won the final three quarters 92-76, mainly thanks to a massive night from Morant.
Returning after missing Game 2 with a hand injury, Morant finished 45 points on 13-of-26 shooting with 13 assists and 9 rebounds. It wasn't enough to completely turn the game around, but there is at least some reason for confidence this series isn't over.
Dillons Brooks was the butt of the joke vs. Lakers
You know things aren't going well when the SportsCenter Twitter account is posting a single picture of you.
That was only the tip of the iceberg of schadenfreude that unfolded as viewers at home watched the Grizzlies languish in the first quarter.
Doris Burke said about Dillon Brooks: “he doesn’t bring athleticism to the floor. He OBVIOUSLY doesn’t bring shooting to the floor”
— andrew leezus (@AndrewLeezus) April 23, 2023
I wanna know who made this graphic for national television so I can send flowers pic.twitter.com/j4uwW4Sr5G
— vic (@CountOnVic) April 23, 2023
Lakers not even contesting shots by Dillon Brooks at this point. It’s absurd how the Grizzlies give Brooks the freedom to shoot as much as he does.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 23, 2023
The Grizzlies are on pace to score 36 points tonight. If they score less than 40, do they lose Dillon Brooks’ respect?
— nba paint (@nba_paint) April 23, 2023
Dillon Brooks called Lebron old after the last game and Memphis proceeded to finish the 1st Quarter down 35-9. That’s the BIGGEST LEAD IN NBA HISTORY after the 1st Quarter. Poked the wrong Bear.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) April 23, 2023
Things didn't improve after the ejection.
Lakers should have the right to waive ejection and let Dillon Brooks keep playing if they want.
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) April 23, 2023
Dillon Brooks ejected. Terrible break for the Lakers. Let’s see if they can overcome this
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 23, 2023
There was a kernel of truth to those jokes, as the Grizzlies outscored the Lakers 64-58 after Brooks' ejection.
Dillon Brooks and LeBron James' 1-sided beef
Brooks was already known for being one of the NBA's most eager trash talkers before this series, but he dialed it up on Wednesday after the Grizzlies pulled out a key win.
The words he directed at James, which will likely now go down in infamy: "I don't care. He's old. ... I poke bears. I don't respect no one till they come and give me 40."
"I don't care. He's old. ... I poke bears. I don't respect no one 'til they come and give me 40."
Dillon Brooks on his exchanges with LeBron during Game 2 😳
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 20, 2023
James wasn't very interested in a back-and-forth with a player whose résumé obviously pales in comparison to his, even if that player has been a solid rotation piece with the Grizzlies for years.
Asked multiple times about Brooks on Friday, James mostly responded with one-word answers and called the exercise "bulls***" before ending his availability, though he did say the following:
"The game is won in between the four lines. Always has, always will be."
The two players had an exchange shortly before the game that somehow felt simultaneously friendly and tense, with James smiling and shaking his head before walking away.
Dillon Brooks and LeBron James chatting during warmups; Grizzlies; Lakers pic.twitter.com/woJFiItAlD
— Oh no he didn't (@ohnohedidnt24) April 23, 2023
Fast forward to the end of the game and Lakers had a 2-1 series lead. After the game, Brooks walked past reporters and declined to speak after the game.
Dillon Brooks declined comment, walking past media in hallway. “I’m good”, he said, when asked if he was willing to talk
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) April 23, 2023
Game 4 is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET Monday (TNT) at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.