Chicago Bulls' Robin Lopez, Toronto Raptors' Serge Ibaka each suspended one game

NEW YORK-- Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez and Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka have each been suspended one game without pay for throwing punches at one another during an altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire has been fined $15,000 for pushing Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic and acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.

The incident, for which Ibaka and Lopez were assessed technical fouls and ejected from the game, occurred with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter of the Raptors’ 122-120 overtime win over the Bulls at Air Canada Centre on March 21.

Lopez will serve his suspension tonight when the Bulls host the Detroit Pistons at United Center.  Ibaka will serve his suspension on Thursday when the Raptors visit the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Raptor Serge Ibaka lands a punch while battling Robin Lopez of the Bulls in the second half of Tuesday night's game at the ACC. Both were tossed and face suspensions. (FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS)


Raptors beat Bulls in wild OT battle

When a fistfight in an NBA game — real punches, real malice and real repercussions to come — becomes something of a secondary storyline, it’s been a rather special night.

Sort of like a night as rare as one when the Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls.

In one of the most improbable results from one of the most entertaining games of this season — at least — the Raptors stormed back in the fourth quarter to post a 122-120 overtime victory over the Bulls at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night, ending a streak of 11 straight losses to Chicago dating back to Dec. 31, 2013.

“Piece of cake,” deadpanned Raptors coach Dwane Casey after Toronto outscored Chicago 42-26 over the last quarter and five-minute overtime.

It was an unusual group — Cory Joseph, Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson — that closed the game so impressively and with a “force” that made Casey proud.

“Win, lose or draw I thought we were scrapping, competing, and that’s all you can ask of your team this time of year, is to play that way,” Casey said. “We found the group that was going to go in there and fight . . . We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win in the first three quarters. We gave ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”

DeRozan — who would finish with 42 points, eight assists and seven rebounds — gave Toronto its first lead of the night with about 90 seconds to go in OT, and Patterson had an offensive rebound and put-back bucket with 45 seconds left to give the Raptors a four-point cushion.

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler missed a terribly rushed three out of an ensuing timeout before Joseph sealed the game with 17.7 seconds left. DeRozan then split free throws and Butler hit a three to get Chicago within two with 2.8 seconds left, but the Raptors got the ball inbounds safely to run out the clock.

The fight livened up the night and ended with Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez being tossed from the game with about four minutes left in the third quarter. Ibaka and Lopez got tangled up after a Bulls basket, then Ibaka gave Lopez a little nudge before the Bulls centre slapped the ball.

The requisite pushing and shoving escalated into an NBA rarity when first Lopez and then Ibaka threw punches at each other.

“That thing happened where you just start to push each other, like always happens when there’s contact, and then he throws a punch,” Ibaka said. “You know, like a man, I had to defend myself. I’m not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away. I had to defend myself. So that’s what happened.”

Neither landed a punch flush, but both were ejected and will surely face suspensions when the league reviews the incident Wednesday. Rules stipulate a fine of not more than $50,000, along with a possible suspension. It’s inconceivable that Lopez and Ibaka will avoid sitting out at least one game and likely more.

“I know it’s basketball. Sometimes we can talk trash or push each other,” Ibaka said. “Punching like that, there’s no room, I think. I want to play basketball. I don’t want to get suspended.

“The fact that he’s talking to me first and like a man, I respond and protect myself.”

The fight also sparked the Raptors’ comeback. They were down 16 when the incident occurred before they took off.

“After that we started a little comeback there and we were able to change the flow of the game and the pace of the game,” VanVleet said. “If something like that doesn’t get you going, and your competitive spirit going, I don’t know what will. Obviously we don’t want our guys to get suspended or things like that, but you got to defend yourself when you’re in those positions and I think that’s what we did.”


Raptors' Serge Ibaka, Bulls' Robin Lopez get one-game suspensions for fight

Chicago Bulls big man Robin Lopez predicted the punishment, and on Wednesday, the NBA confirmed it.

Lopez and Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka were each suspended one game without pay for throwing punches in Tuesday's night fight. It began late in the third quarter, when Ibaka appeared to elbow Lopez in the back. Lopez swiped at him in retaliation, and before long, both players were swinging at the other as teammates and officials tried to separate them.

Raptors assistant Jamaal Magloire was fined $15,000 for shoving Bulls forward Niko Mirotic. The NBA deemed he acted as "other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation."

"What happened is we were playing physical basketball and he got frustrated," Ibaka explained to reporters after the game. "That thing happened where you just start pushing each other, like always happens when there's contact, and then he throws a punch. You know, like a man, I had to defend myself. I'm not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away. I had to defend myself."

Said Lopez: "Things got heated, we exchanged a few words and it kind of went from there. I'm not too surprised (that it escalated). It happens sometimes.

"I'm expecting to be suspended," Lopez added. "We'll see."

Ibaka will serve his suspension on Thursday when the Raptors play the Miami Heat. Lopez will serve his Wednesday night as the Bulls host the Pistons.

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