Two key members of the Indiana Pacers got into a fistfight just before the start of the NBA playoffs, according to a report.
On Friday, Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson were involved in a fistfight at a team practice, one day before the Pacers began their series against the Atlanta Hawks, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Sources claimed that it took two other Pacers — forwards Luis Scola and David West — to pull Turner away from Stephenson.
“This stuff happens, but the timing wasn’t ideal,” a witness told Yahoo Sports. The sources also noted that Stephenson has drawn the ire of more than one of his Pacers teammates over the last several weeks, and that his fistfight with Turner was “weeks in the making.” For his part, Turner dismissed the report, stating that “nothing happened” between him and Stephenson.
“We’ve been on the ropes a little bit,” West told Yahoo Sports. “Every team goes through that. But I thought we did a great job of dealing with whatever issues we had. The great thing about this group has always been that we’re very open with one another, always been able to get through the ups and downs of a long NBA season.”
Despite a successful 2013-14 campaign that saw the Pacers amass a 56-26 record and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the squad has struggled of late. Since March 1, the Pacers are just 12-14, with serious issues on both offense and defense, the Associated Press notes.
These struggles continued on Saturday, when the Pacers dropped the first game of their opening round series against the Hawks, 101-93. Still, Indiana rallied on Tuesday, evening the series at 1-1 with a 101-85 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Neither Turner nor Stephenson had much of an impact, respectively scoring three and seven points.
"We know that Larry [Bird] and Donnie [Walsh] and [Kevin Pritchard] put a team together to try and win a championship this year," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "We know that's the goal, and we know that's the kind of talent we have here. It's up to us now to do it, to get it done."
Game 3 of the Pacers-Hawks series will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.