The game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night got a bit too chippy when Sixers’ big man Joel Embiid and Wolves’ big man Karl-Anthony Towns got into a tussle that resulted in both players being ejected from the game.
The two, who have a history of trash talking one another, started shoving one another before Towns threw, and missed, a punch before grabbing Embiid in a headlock as teammates ran over to separate the two players.
Following a video review, both players were ejected from the game.
“We deemed the altercation a fight. Therefore, by rule, they’re both ejected,” Mark Ayotte, the officials’ crew chief said following the game (h/t ESPN). “I just saw them each lock arms. And that escalated to the fight.
“I felt like you could see a lot of things the previous three possessions in the post.” Embiid said. “I kind of got it the way I wanted to, and then — I don’t know, I guess that last possession, we got them to turn the ball over, and my hand was staying tangled up. And next thing I know, he’s holding me; we’re holding each other.
“But it’s basketball. That’s what I’m good at — I like to get in people’s minds.”
Towns’ teammates stood by their star player, with some saying he may have not done something like this a year ago.
“As you can see tonight, [Towns’] got a lot of fight in him,” Wolves guard Jeff Teague told reporters. “Last year, I wouldn’t say he wouldn’t do that or he would’ve took it, but he’s here to make a statement. I think tonight it just showed a lot of heart. I’m riding with him.”
Embiid says that he doesn’t expect to be suspended for the tussle, something his coach, Brett Brown, echoed as well.
“All I did was try to be as cool as I could in that situation. Personally, I didn’t throw any punches, so I shouldn’t get suspended,” Embiid said. “But they have a history of just overruling anything that comes to me in a subtle way — so hopefully they’ll overrule it in the right way, but I don’t expect it.”
Towns didn’t say much regarding the altercation, simply saying that “It was a competitive game” when asked by reporters.
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