Like any very competitive event that shoves 10 really strong people into a condensed space, an NBA game can occasionally break out into a fight opponents. The league is a fraternity, but sometimes its members get really upset and shove each other.
On Tuesday night, several members of the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers got into that kind of fight. With roughly six minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Pacers up 95-85, Warriors center Andris Biedrins fouled Indiana forward David West on a shot in the post. As the shot went up, Warriors power forward David Lee initiated contact with a shove on Pacers center Roy Hibbert. He retaliated with a push of his own, and the two got in each other's faces, with Lee getting in another forceful chest bump.
That's when things got really messy. Warriors guard Stephen Curry ran over to stick up for his teammate and presumably separate the two. Hibbert didn't take kindly to being grabbed, though, and cast Curry off with an elbow, sending him to the floor. Curry jumped up and ran at Hibbert again, only to be shoved away immediately. (He was the smallest player on the court, after all.) A host of players and coaches ran to the scene, including West, Warriors guard Jarrett Jack, and Warriors assistant Michael Malone. Oh, and the scrum went slightly into the first couple rows of seats, although no fans were involved in the fight.
[NBA Power Rankings: Spurs starting to feel the Heat]
After the jump, read up on the technical fouls issued, the one ejection, and Roy Hibbert's response to the incident.
In the aftermath of the fight, referees ejected Hibbert with two technical fouls and issued technicals to Lee, Curry, Warriors guard Klay Thompson, and West. With three technicals to each side, the fouls offset and no extra free throws were taken.
Initially, it looked as if more players could have been ejected simply because the fight extended into the stands. In the years since the infamous Malice in the Palace brawl in Detroit, the NBA has become especially concerned with any disagreement that could potentially involve fans.
However, the referees decided that this fight was not especially bad — which is my opinion, as well — and only ejected Hibbert. Based on several precedents, he will likely earn a one-game suspension and miss Thursday's home game against the Los Angeles Clippers. After the game, Hibbert assumed that he would have to sit out (my own transcription, as seen on CSN Bay Area):
Seriously, I didn't feel [Curry]. ... It's between David Lee and [Curry] just wanted to get involved. You know, I'm the type of person — I don't want to start anything with someone that's smaller than me. If I have somebody my size, you know, we'll talk it out like men. I don't take pride in tossing a little guy to the side. [...]
To tell you the truth, I'm probably sure I'll probably have to sit out the next game. But, you know, it is what it is. This team's very capable. We have each other's back. And we're going to get prepared for the Clippers. So I'll find out in the morning.
It's a mature and accurate response to the incident — Hibbert got caught up in the heat of the moment, did something wrong, and is now ready to accept the consequences of his actions. It wasn't a major incident, and no one really treated it like one after the game. They will accept the repercussions like adults and move on.
By the way, the Pacers held onto win 108-97 behind stellar games from West (28 points on 12-of-16 shooting), George Hill (23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and seven assists), and All-Star Paul George (21 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 11 rebounds). They're now the No. 2 team in the East, a full game ahead of the New York Knicks. Who, incidentally, host what should be an unhappy Warriors squad on Wednesday night.
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