Dressed in a red tank top and Adidas sneakers, Isaiah Stewart stood on the top step of the court — eyes locked on two television cameras, shoulders squared and face contorted — as fans screamed in the background. Everyone in the arena knew this moment was about to happen, although the cheers increased as it became clear what was about to transpire.
The guards of both teams were in the midst of a physical match and, while the Hornets’ Jeremy Lamb was one player who needed to be careful, it was the two players who appeared to be pushing the envelope.
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Isaiah Stewart of the Charlotte Hornets and Pistons’ Reggie Bullock end up fighting in the first quarter. pic.twitter.com/g6rzRoMlDP — ESPN (@espn) February 10, 2019
The Pistons’ Reggie Bullock tumbled to the floor and got tangled up with the Hornets’ Noah Vonleh and Frank Kaminsky.
But this is an overtime game, and all hell broke loose in the next few minutes. The playing area was locked down and only a couple of players were left on the court.
Bullock was quickly taken to the locker room, where he was expected to be checked out by medical personnel. The video featured after the game showed what appeared to be Vonleh being helped up by teammates, while Bulls’ coach Fred Hoiberg said that Vonleh was “fine” and questioned the way the play unfolded.
With both teams throwing elbows and shoving, Carter-Williams was pushed back by Bullock and to the ground. After a few moments on the ground, Carter-Williams got up and looked at the referees. When he asked what the call was, Carter-Williams heard “Knock it off.”
Next came a brief conversation, and the next sight we saw was Cornelius Shaw climbing the railing and throwing punches. And that was only in the first quarter.
Battling Isaiah Stewart of the Hornets and Reggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons for @ChampionsLeague ball in the first quarter! 😮 pic.twitter.com/fH0Ljy49ye — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2019
This was followed by an emphatic tangle in which Buckets and Vonleh were tangled up and Bullock made the charging call. Like Carter-Williams, the officials gave the Pistons’ guard a whistle to start, and, while there were words exchanged between these two players, neither was ejected.
As the clock wound down, Bulls’ guard Luke Babbitt drew a flagrant-one charge on Kaminsky. The sequence obviously wound up on a video-review board, and the reactions around the arena indicated that it was likely.
Luke Babbitt and Kemba Walker have been ejected for fighting following a fight from the opening minutes. pic.twitter.com/kmJD2f80fE — NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 10, 2019
In the next incident, Trevor Booker and Vonleh went at it in the postgame huddle and a few minutes later, the game officials took an evaluation to determine if Booker would be disqualified. Once the play was over, Booker was left on the floor on his own, while Vonleh and Kaminsky continued the postgame scrum.
Finally, it was time for the scoring of the game, and Jordan Clarkson’s layup was canceled because of the fighting.
Shaw was promptly suspended, while Babbitt was banished to the locker room.
Players who were ejected could be seen leaving through the tunnel, and by the time they got to the locker room, some of the fight had spilled over into the hallways. Players from both teams got involved and offered words before hustling off the court.
It all looked ugly, and it led to a series of incidents after the game, as Durant and Clippers’ Lonzo Ball got into it before the pair were separated.
While the struggle between Clarkson and Kaminsky was only figuratively what was likely on the minds of all those screaming in the stands, neither player stood up for what had happened and simply walked away.