NBA suspends 5 players involved in Heat-Pelicans skirmish


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The NBA on Sunday suspended five players involved in the skirmish during Friday night’s game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat.

Heat center Thomas Bryant and Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado were suspended for three games for fighting and leaving the bench area. Heat guards Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jovic along with Pelicans forward Naji Marshall were each given a one-game suspension.

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Najii Marshall and Jimmy Butler

Pelicans forward Naji Marshall, left, and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, right, get into a scuffle during their game in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Butler will lose $260,000 in base salary because of his suspension. The rest of the suspensions will cost the four other players about $115,000 combined.

The scrap occurred late in the fourth quarter after a hard foul on Zion Williamson as the big man went up for a layup. Kevin Love tried his best to thwart Williamson.

Williamson hit the floor hard, and a couple of his teammates rushed over to make sure he was OK, with one pushing Love out of the way. Butler returned with a push of his own, and that’s when he and Marshall came face to face. When they were jawing at one another, Marshall put his right hand around Butler’s throat, and they had to be separated by members of both teams.

Thomas Bryant gets involved

Miami Heat center Thomas Bryant, right, is held back by Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas after getting in a scuffle with Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

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Another view of the aftermath appeared to show Thomas Bryant, who was not checked into the game yet, throwing a punch at Jose Alvarado, causing yet another brouhaha near the scorer’s table.

During that, a fan could be seen throwing an object in the direction of the players.

Butler said he didn’t think he should’ve been ejected.

“I put my hand around his neck. He put his hand around my neck,” he said of the incident with Marshall. “And it just took off the way it did.”

Alvarado, Butler, Bryant and Marshall were ejected from the game.

Jose Alvarado jaws with Heat players

Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado, upper left, climbs on a chair and is surrounded by teammates after a scuffle with Miami Heat center Thomas Bryant in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

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The Heat won 106-95.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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