On Monday night, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and several other Warriors and Thunder players were involved in a scuffle that ended with four players receiving technical fouls. It was a tense scene, but it was nothing compared to what happened during the Bulls/Raptors game just 24 hours later.
On Tuesday night, Chicago center Robin Lopez and Toronto center Serge Ibaka were involved in a heated exchange that started under the Bulls basket after Jimmy Butler sank a three-pointer. Ibaka grabbed the ball as it went through the hoop and threw an elbow that appeared to connect with Lopez’s back. Lopez responded by taking a swipe at the ball. And from there, all hell broke loose as players from both teams joined in. Angry words were sent back and forth, punches were thrown, and eventually, Lopez and Ibaka were both ejected from the game.
You can watch the wild brawl here:
Lopez was asked about the fight after the game, and he seemed to place the blame for it squarely on Ibaka. He said that he reacted to Ibaka’s initial elbow and that Ibaka escalated the situation by going after him in the scrum. "It felt like nobody had any hold on him," Lopez said. "And he just kept coming at me with his arm. And I was just trying to get him off me."
Ibaka saw things differently. He blamed the fight on Lopez's frustration:
While all of that was going on in Toronto, Lopez’s brother Brook was playing against the Pistons in Brooklyn. He actually hit a buzzer beater at the end of the game to give the Nets a hard-fought 98-96 win over Detroit. But when it was over, he admitted that he had gotten wind of what happened with Robin during the Bulls/Raptors game. And he responded by joking about it with reporters.
"I’ve heard about it through multiple people," he said. "People were telling me during the game. It was something apparently. A little old school NBA, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll get a grudge match. I’m pulling for Ibaka, though."
Brook also joked about what would happen if Robin ever tried to punch him during a game.
"I can tell you right now that if that were me out there, Robin would have been on the ground," he said.
And he finished by calling his brother out for throwing the first punch during the fight with Ibaka.
"He always does!" he said. "He’s messed up like that, man."
All kidding aside, Robin Lopez and Ibaka are both expected to be fined and suspended for the roles they played in their fight. The Raptors went on to beat the Bulls 122-120 in overtime.