Jue. Abr 18th, 2024

NEW ORLEANS — Miami’s Jimmy Butler was among four players ejected after a scuffle early in the fourth quarter in the Heat’s 106-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

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Heat reserve Thomas Bryant and two Pelicans — Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall — also were ejected after fisticuffs erupted with 11:19 left and Miami leading 84-81.

«You never want to see that,» Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. «Once it was all done, the response was appropriate – discipline, physicality, force, but not going over the top.»

The scuffle began after Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson stole the ball from Butler, and Kevin Love grabbed Williamson to prevent an uncontested layup.

As Love was whistled for a foul, Williamson fell to the court and Marshall rushed in to object to the way Williamson was fouled.

Butler engaged Marshall and they briefly grabbed each other by the neck as teammates and coaches animatedly swarmed around them.

After it appeared that officials had managed to separate the teams, Bryant and Alvarado began bickering near the scorer’s table and exchanged blows as a new scrum formed around them.

«It was just, I think, a misunderstanding of the play,» Spoelstra said. «I think Zion slipped on the play when K-Love grabbed him and it looked a lot worse than what it was. And then everybody kind of overreacted.

«I think they interpreted that K-Love threw (Williamson) down. On K-Love’s best day, I don’t think he could throw him down.»

Fans gave Marshall and Alvarado, both popular reserves known for feisty play, a standing ovation as they left the court.

Emotions flared in the stands as well.

A fan wearing a Pelicans jersey began throwing things at Miami players as Alvarado and Bryant scuffled, and was ejected by security. Soon after, a fan wearing a Heat jersey was escorted out.

Officials reviewed video of the altercations for several minutes before deciding on the four ejections. Love was assessed a common foul.

«I just know dudes started scrapping and I had to protect my teammates,» Heat center Bam Adebayo said. «That’s what it boiled down to.

«Obviously, you get ejected if you leave the bench, so I tried to stay on the sideline and run from sideline to sideline to see if I could help my teammates. But those scuffles happen, it’s part of basketball. We compete, we gonna have blow-ups like that.»

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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