Sports

Simple Inbounds Play Turns Into All-Out Brawl, Suspensions Looming

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A fight broke out near the end of the third quarter of the game between the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

It happened after a long inbounds pass from under the Raptors’ basket in the final second of the third period. Toronto’s Norman Powell heaved it the length of the court and Serge Ibaka tried to catch it, but it went off his fingertips out of bounds.

The Cavs’ Marquese Chriss was locked arm-in-arm with Ibaka as the ball flew through the air, and let go just as the ball sailed overhead. Ibaka fell to the floor, more from trying to get the ball than being pushed by Chriss.

Chriss walked past Ibaka as he laid on the ground and must have said something, although it’s hard to tell from the replay.

Ibaka jumped to his feet and attacked Chriss from behind, grabbing him by the neck and pinning him against the stanchion holding up the hoop.

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Chriss pushed him away and threw a punch, which missed. Ibaka threw one back, and it missed.

Soon, the benches cleared and the two men were separated.

Both players were ejected for fighting.

Neither player commented after the game, but the Toronto Sun reported that Chriss said something on that play that set Ibaka off.

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Do you think both players should be suspended?

“I just saw some stuff building up. Some frustration,” the Raptors’ Danny Green told the Sun. “Not just with him but throughout the game with a lot of guys. Some things not going our way. And I saw them get tangled up earlier in the game and I guess it kind of escalated. An altercation happened very fast.”

Earlier in the game, Ibaka hit the deck after Chriss fouled him.

“Well, it’s always going to be concerning, we don’t certainly want that in the game,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said, reported the Sun. “It’s going to cost him a game, probably. It usually does when there is an altercation like that and we don’t want that. We don’t want to lose one of our guys for incidents like that. Whether it’s Serge or anybody.”

ESPN reported that it was the eighth career ejection for Ibaka and the third for Chriss.

Ibaka was suspended one game for a fight with the Heat’s James Johnson last year and one game for a fight with the Bulls’ Robin Lopez in 2017. He’ll definitely be suspended for this fight.

ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks expects it to be in the three-to-five-game range since Ibaka is a repeat offender.

It’s not clear what type of penalty Chriss will get. While he may have said something, Ibaka is the one who choked him. He did throw a punch but in self-defense.

To add insult to injury, the Cavs beat the Raptors 126-101.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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