Written by Staff Writer
For the first time in history, three NBA players fought each other on the court Sunday in a brawl that ended with an ejection of one of the combatants, Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Paul George.
Their earlier fight was sparked when the Cavaliers’ LeBron James drilled George with a hard foul — hitting the Indiana player in the face — and the fans inside Quicken Loans Arena reacted to the way their team’s player was escorted off the court.
At halftime, George was escorted off the court after sitting out his two minutes of fouls. Several players from the Cleveland team went to their place to talk, but George then came over and punched Cavs forward J.R. Smith, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Smith responded by punching the Pacers player.
Four players were ejected, including Smith and George, both of whom were cited for their role in the fight, as were Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Jamario Moon.
The punch also knocked out Pacers center Myles Turner’s glasses. James received a technical foul.
“It was an ugly thing out there tonight,” Game 3 game analyst Richard Jefferson said on TNT. “You go from Paul George going out of bounds late in the game, throwing a hard foul on LeBron, to this (fight). There’s no place for that on the court. Nothing was going to change after that.”
“Myles got him in the nose and then LeBron knocked him out,” Game 3 game analyst Kenny Smith said. “They were exchanging punches, exchanging kicks, all in 1 minute and 2 seconds.”
As the brawl continued, officials quickly brought out security to separate the two teams.
“If a player’s mouth is hanging out and they’re throwing punches and wrestling in the middle of the floor — that’s on us, that’s on the refs,” Richard Jefferson said. “We as players have to hold ourselves more accountable, and I thought we really let ourselves down tonight. So I think that there was enough of a conduct in the game to warrant ejection or whatever they had to do tonight.”
Paul George faces possible suspension
After the game, George said he will know after he is seen on film whether he will receive a suspension for his role in the brawl.
“How I played tonight, I hope is it’s worthy of some kind of suspension,” he said. “If not, then I would like to apologize to the Pacers fans. We have to make sure that we get this thing turned around and get on a winning streak here.”
Cavs’ LeBron James to referee Dick Bavetta: ‘Your attention, boy’
He added, “I hit LeBron, I don’t think it was a foul. He retaliated and punched me and that’s on him, so I have to be held accountable.”
LeBron James told TNT, “I apologize to the fans, I apologized to the Pacers organization, and I apologize to (George). I don’t want nothing, especially a teammate to be hurt.”
At one point in the game, which the Cavaliers won 113-102, James threw his headband to the floor in frustration.
Following the game, Indiana coach Nate McMillan said his team’s performance was “embarrassing.”
“It’s tough to say what’s going on in the locker room and our group as a whole. But tonight we didn’t have enough. I thought the energy was bad, especially in the first half. We can’t have nights like that,” he said.
“I’m embarrassed. Embarrassed for our fans, embarrassed for our organization and hopefully we can get on a winning streak here.”
Indiana trailed by just two points at the time of the fight, but Cavs guard Collin Sexton made three 3-pointers and coach Tyronn Lue won’t have another suspended player for Game 4 on Monday.