Five players in Friday’s encounter between the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves were tossed late in the third quarter following an altercation centered around Mo Bamba and Austin Rivers.
Bamba and teammate Jalen Suggs were ejected for Orlando, while Rivers, Jaden McDaniels, and Taurean Prince were tossed on Minnesota’s side.
While play was on the opposite end of the court, Rivers approached Orlando’s bench and appeared to say something in the direction of a seated Bamba. The Magic center then quickly stood up and grabbed the Timberwolves guard before the two appeared to trade blows as teammates rushed in.
In a possession prior to the fracas, Bamba appeared to say something to Rivers after the latter missed a three in front of the Magic bench, evoking a surprised reaction from teammate Markelle Fultz.
Immediately following the scuffle and with the game still in progress, Bamba posted an Instagram story seemingly targeted at Rivers. The Timberwolves guard later responded with a written message.
Bamba said postgame he had “nothing to say” regarding the altercation, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. Rivers, however, was more open about his thought process.
“I never want to fight nobody,” the veteran told reporters, courtesy of The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. “That’s never the answer. I always do that in self-defense. But when someone like that, 7-foot, he stands up in front of me and comes at me with that aggression, at that point, I gotta protect myself.”
After being removed from the game, Rivers, who refused to disclose what Bamba said to him, revealed the two had to be separated again near the locker rooms.
“He tried to run up on me or whatever. Ain’t nobody worried about him, man,” Rivers said. “I’m gonna keep it 100 with you. He let a 5-foot-8 guy push him off and take him back to the locker room. I don’t know how serious his threats were.”
The Magic defeated the Timberwolves 127-120. Friday’s matchup was the second and final game between the teams this regular season.
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