Five players were ejected after a fight, in which punches were thrown and almost every player on the court was involved, marred the Orlando Magic’s 127-120 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The fight began at the end of the third quarter when Austin Rivers clashed with Mo Bamba, who was sitting on the Orlando bench. Both players threw punches and as they grappled, they spilled onto the court where Rivers was tackled to the floor by Jalen Suggs, several other players piled in and the referees attempted to break it up.
From the resulting melee, Rivers, Jaden McDaniels and Taurean Prince from the Timberwolves, as well as Bamba and Suggs from Orlando, were all ejected.
Rivers said after the game that he “just didn’t like the way (Bamba) was talking” to him after he had missed a three-pointer.
“For no reason, too. I don’t even know that dude. I don’t know anything about him. Obviously, I just know he’s a player for the Magic. And he proceeded to talk, so that next possession, when I went down there, I just said, pretty much, ‘Just keep it respectful, bro…’ I’m not going to let somebody disrespect me.’”
Orlando’s Markelle Fultz, who was sitting next to Bamba on the bench, told reporters afterwards that his teammate had said “nothing disrespectful or crazy.”
“It was just … people talking trash when somebody shoots on the side,” Fultz said, according to ESPN. “Same stuff they do on their side. I don’t know if it was something that [Rivers] has been dealing with or something, but he got extremely mad, and that’s what he chose to do to retaliate.”
The Magic were already 83-73 up when the fight happened and extended their lead to a seemingly unassailable 20 points by the beginning of the fourth.
Minnesota came back to within six points but the Orlando bench, led by Cole Anthony with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, dragged the team to victory, adding 72 points while D’Angelo Russell contributed a game-high 29 points for the Timberwolves.