Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Heat and Pelicans brawl; Naji Marshall chokes Jimmy Butler in scrap that sees four players ejected

The Miami Heat’s physical 106-95 win over New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night spilled out of control early in the fourth quarter after a hard foul on Zion Williamson. The ensuing scrap between the two teams saw four different players ejected: Jimmy Butler and Thomas Bryant for the Heat, and Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado for the Pelicans. 

“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.”

Less than a minute into the fourth, Williamson thought he was fouled on a drive to the basket and got up frustrated. He channelled those emotions into immediately stealing the ball back from Butler. As he went to the rim again, he was wrapped up by Kevin Love and was sent to the deck. The hard foul enraged Williamson’s teammates, who came rushing in to defend him. 

Marshall was the first on the scene and gave Love a little bump before engaging with Butler. As Butler tried to push Marshall away, the Pelicans forward reacted strongly and grabbed Butler by the neck with a chokehold. That set off Butler, who tried to chase Marshall down as players, coaches and security staff separated the pair. 

Here’s an alternate view:

Just when it seemed like things were settling down, Bryant went after Alvarado by the scorer’s table. Bryant appeared to throw multiple punches, which set off another scrum as personnel from both teams arrived on the scene. It’s unclear why those two got into it. 

Here’s another angle:

Once everyone calmed down and returned to their respective benches, the referees initiated a lengthy review at the monitor. They decided that the foul on Love would remain a common foul, while all four of Butler, Bryant, Marshall and Alvarado were given double technicals and kicked out of the game. 

“Butler and Marshall engaged in physical contact which escalates the altercation,” crew chief Curtis Blair said in the pool report after the game. “Alvarado and Bryant engaged in a physical altercation that continued the altercation. We did not see them leave [their benches], but it is not our decision.  It is up to the league office to determine if they left their respective benches.”

Off the court, the fans were getting involved as well. A video from the stands showed a fan in a CJ McCollum jersey throwing objects at players during the Bryant-Alvarado action. Meanwhile, on the Pelicans’ broadcast, a Heat fan in a Dwyane Wade shirt was escorted from his seat. 

“I thought it was two competitive teams that want to win, and sometimes you’re gonna have things like that happen,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. “No big deal.” 

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